(Article by Mac for ASKEW, Jan 8.)
Discrimination against non-Muslim Americans is alive and well in Minneapolis and, as many of us could have predicted, the Minneapolis International Airport is finally being forced to do something about it.
This week saw a resurgence of the ongoing battle at the Minneapolis airport to deal with Muslim cab drivers who refuse service to passengers whose behaviors don’t agree with Islam. The Metropolitan Airport Commission, which oversees policy at the airport, has received a request from airport officials to hold a public hearing regarding proposals for future policy for Muslim cabbies.
The hoopla began last October, when the media picked up a story that Muslim cabbies at the airport were refusing service to passengers carrying alcohol. This consisted mainly of unopened bottles that had been purchased during wine tours, or at the duty-free shop. The cab drivers argued that alcohol violated the tenets of Islam. (They also refused to pick up passengers at liquor stores and bars.)
In November, the controversy was given greater exposure when Muslim drivers refused transport to passengers with dogs - including those with seeing-eye or other service dogs, in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Commission will issue a decision on January 16 on whether the hearings will be public. The proposal states that all drivers at the airport will be expected to carry all passengers with alcohol and service dogs. Drivers will have their licenses suspended for 30 days after the first offense and revoked for two years for the second. Policy would take effect on May 11, when licenses come up for renewal. Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan says, "Our expectation is that if you’re going to be driving a taxi at the airport, you need to provide service to anybody who wants it."
That’s the state of the situation as most news readers know it. But let’s look closer. This is not, in fact, a recent issue; it has become increasingly menacing in recent months, not only in the U.S., but on a global scale. Consider the following:
- - The Commission at Minneapolis has negotiated for over two years with Muslim drivers. Of the 900+ cabbies at the airport, some 3/4 are Somali, and the majority of those are Muslim. Of the remaining 1/4, many are from other Middle Eastern and North African countries and are Muslims.
- - In 2006, the Commission received a "fatwah" (religious edict) from the Muslim American Society (MAS) stating that "Islamic law" prohibits cab drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol. Minneapolis officials - in true ultra-liberal "Minnesota nice" fashion - tried to accommodate the drivers by training cab starters to put passengers carrying alcohol in non-Muslim cabs.
- - When the issue hit the major media in Oct/Nov of 2006, it simultaneously hit the international media - due to a surge of similar incidents - in Australia, Canada, England, The Netherlands and Norway. Coincidence?
- - MAS was founded by U.S. members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group originating in Egypt, with a long history of terrorist ties throughout the Middle East. The cabbies also received loud support from CAIR - Council for American-Islamic Relations - a controversial organization with monetary and loyalty ties to militant Islamic groups in the Middle East (and with whom Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a proclaimed Muslim, is closely affiliated).
- - Muslims who refuse transport to passengers with dogs or alcohol have frequently cited Islamic law as the reason, which specifically states that these things are amongst the "najis", or the unclean. Contact with such things - however distant apparently - requires ritualistic purification before prayer. The commonly accepted list of najis - there are ten - includes pigs, dogs, urine, feces, semen, alcohol and Kafirs (non-Muslims).
- - In New Orleans in 1997, a Muslim cab driver yanked a passenger out of his cab before her service dog could enter, shouting, "No dog! No dog! Get out! Get out!", and injuring her. (He was sentenced to 120 days of community service at the Lighthouse of the Blind.) In Cincinnati in 1999, a blind passenger was refused entry with her dog. In both these instances, CAIR came to the public defense of the Muslims involved. In similar cases in Canada in 2000 and 2003, a passenger was refused cab entry with a service dog, one of many such incidents, and a blind woman was refused entry into a Muslim-owned convenience story with her dog. In November of last year, a Florida man was noisily thrown out of a convenience store because he had a service dog.
Notably, the Free Muslims Coalition posted an article from president Kamal Nawash in October of 2006, in which he states, "These . . . drivers are choosing to impose a minority view in Islam on the general population and this is simply unacceptable." And other Muslims point out that Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, not the transport. But this fails to address the specific citations of "najias" as justification.
Radical Islamic groups and their puppet cabbies pose a sinister problem. They are using such legal arguments as "freedom of religion" to argue their positions. So again we have the expectation that American law and society (it cannot be ignored here that they both are Christian-Judeo in their origin) accommodate the Muslim, and not the other way around.
It is baffling to the many immigrants through two centuries who have successfully integrated into American life. Eva Buzek, a flight attendant living in Minneapolis, was refused transport five times after a trip to France, because she had wine. She is a native of Poland.
"In my book, when you choose to come to a different country, you make some choices . . . I never expected everything to be the same way as in my homeland, and I adjusted. I never dreamed of imposing by beliefs on somebody else. . ."
The dogged determination of Muslim groups to come here and live here and demand that they be accommodated without compromise, is antithetical to American thinking. They continue to do it and use our own laws to work against us - and we continue to bend to accommodate it because it is also in accordance with our way of thinking to welcome other cultures. But to welcome a people, and to allow that people to break our laws to impose their religious beliefs on us, are two different things.
At Minneapolis, over 120 passengers every month are refused transport by Muslim cabbies. The situation - kept from the boiling point for years - has become a customer-service catastrophe. Most recently, the Commission proposed equipping non-alcohol cabs with special lights. The result was over 400 emails and phone calls to the Commission in public protest.
No one has questioned what would happen if this is allowed to continue. Many passengers are now transporting alcohol in their luggage. Is luggage to be searched by Muslim cabbies for that which they find objectionable? Are we - as "Kafirs" - the next objectionable cargo?
The online publication The Stiletto said it well in a January 2007 post:
Muslim immigrants to the U.S. are clearly unfamiliar with the American concept that ‘Your rights end where mine begin.’ For more than 230 years, this guiding principle has protected our uniquely ecumenical and pluralistic country from the sectarian, ethnic and racial strife Muslims finance, stoke and engage in worldwide. . . CAIR would better serve the Muslim community in America by educating them on religious tolerance, respecting the rights of others and showing compassion to a blind person shivering in the chill of the Minnesota winter, waiting for a taxi cab that will take him and his dog home.