Minneapolis airport drops plans for sharia lights on Muslim taxis after 'overwhelming backlash' resulting from Dr.Daniel Pipe's article
October 11, 2006
MIM: Less then 24 hours after Dr.Daniel Pipes published a blog and article on his website dealing with the Muslim taxi issue, the Minneapolis airport spokesman Paul Hogan, announced that the light idea had been scrapped citing 'an overwhelming backlash". In his article Dr.Pipes "Don't Bring that Booze into my Taxi", Dr. Pipes concluded with:
Airport drops plan to mark liquor-free cabs
Two weeks ago, Twin Cities airport officials were firming up plans to allow many Muslim taxi drivers — staunchly opposed to transporting passengers carrying alcohol of any sort — to alert potential fares of their beliefs with a different-colored light atop their cabs.
After a barrage of negative feedback, they've decided to scrap the idea.
"Since then, we've heard from Australia and England. It's really touched a nerve among a lot of people. The backlash, frankly, has been overwhelming," said Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. "People are overwhelmingly against any kind of cultural accommodation."
About 80 percent of the airport's taxis are driven by Somalis, who are commonly Muslim, Hogan said. The Quran, Islam's holy book, strictly forbids carrying alcohol. The result: Such drivers refuse to carry passengers and are sent to the back of the cab line — typically a three-hour wait.
The plan, which proposed a $40 light that drivers could buy and a two-tiered pickup system, went so far as to be placed on paper. But nobody signed the papers, and the program never went into effect, Hogan said.
Airport officials responded to the backlash from passengers, and taxi drivers feared the publicity would make people avoid taxis altogether.
Interviews with about a dozen cabbies at the airport Tuesday night indicated that Muslim drivers intend to continue to stand by their religious beliefs and not transport passengers carrying alcohol.
"It's going to be tough, it's going to be really tough, I don't know what's going to be next," said Ali Abdi of St. Paul. "We have the right (to refuse to transport alcohol). We are still human being(s)."
A couple went so far as to say they view the backlash as unfairly targeting Somalis and Muslims.
Non-Muslim drivers said they didn't have opinions on the matter.
After new federal regulations went into effect in August severely restricting liquids aboard planes, Hogan said, the problem has become less of an issue.
Before the regulations went into effect, local Muslim drivers refused alcohol-bearing passengers an average of 77 times a month. Now, it's down to four times a month, Hogan said.
"It's still an issue, but the scope is very different," he said, adding that the committee is still meeting, searching for a solution.
Tad Vezner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5461.
Twin Cities airport nixes taxi driver program
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal - 10:29 AM CDT Wednesday
The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) has abandoned plans to launch a program calling for Muslim taxi drivers unwilling to serve travelers carrying alcohol to use a different top-light on their cabs.
The MAC began work on the program after it found that an average of 77 liquor-carrying passengers per month were being refused service by cab drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The commission worked with the Muslim American Society and taxi businesses on developing the proposal.
However, the commission said Tuesday that it believed the program could lead travelers to avoid taxis all together, in favor of taking other forms of transportation.
"It is clear that its implementation could have unintended and significant negative impacts on the taxi industry as a whole," said MAC Executive Director Jeff Hamiel in a statement.
The commission also noted that far fewer people have been carrying alcohol since a ban on bringing liquids on planes went into effect in August.
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