New in America: Not Muslim, No TaxiGood thing they aren't refusing to bake cakes or serve pizza at weddings. They need a good dose of Uber.
Islamic taxi drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are refusing passengers carrying alcohol and blind folks with seeing-eye dogs because the animals' saliva is sacrilege according to Sharia law.
The enterprising Muslims during the past year have stranded 100 passengers a month, sometimes for more than an hour, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission, since three-fourths of the 900 taxi drivers servicing the airport are Somali Muslims who have decided to participate in the new discipline.
To make matters worse, a local outreach director of the ever-obliging Council on American-Islamic Relations, Damon Drake, dismissed the issue, saying, "Now that the Muslims are here, they need to be accommodated."
The issue originated 12 months ago when the airports commission received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. It stated that "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers to carry passengers with alcohol "because it involves cooperating in sin."
One solution, Islamic zealots suggested, would be to designate the majority of cabs following the practice with special colors, or lights, so that passengers would not hold their breath — which is tantamount to telling a newly stranded passenger: "I am Muslim, and I choose not to give you a ride. Tough luck."
This plan was abandoned when airport officials determined that it might cause people to avoid using taxis altogether.
It is not possible to massage this into further outrage, but there is plenty of need to wonder about wider meanings and consequences, not to mention why such a situation was allowed to drag on with no decisive action to date.
Even if one could dismiss such shenanigans as a humorous episode that escaped nationwide attention until recently and will soon go away, what of the next challenge?
What if Islamic drivers deny the right of transportation to women wearing short skirts, robed priests and rabbis, or homosexual couples, as indeed has happened in Minneapolis?
And what to do should conductors, pilots, and stewards on trains and planes insist they should not transport unveiled women or serve alcohol. How far off is the day when emboldened imams in neighborhoods where American Muslims are in the majority, such Dearborn, Mich., demand the broadcasting of the calls to prayer over loudspeakers at dawn and at other times. Farfetched? Not at all. A few months ago, a naturalized Australian imam, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali, who came from Egypt, raised a storm when he likened unveiled Australian women to "uncovered meat that draws predators."
These are neither polemic nor frivolous questions given a cultural process that accepts that Islamic taxi drivers possess "religious rights" overriding public service codes and America's separation of church and state.