UK: a racist bus driver refuses to accept a niqab wearing Muslim passenger, telling others she might "blow up the bus." pic.twitter.com/ZcFPKfojYR— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) August 10, 2018
A bus driver in the United Kingdom has been put on leave following his flagrant display of Islamophobia toward a 20-year-old Muslim mother and her child.
The driver initially refused to allow the woman to board the bus because she was wearing a niqab, a veil that covers the face but allows of the eyes to be seen. The driver made many disparaging comments toward the woman, insinuating that he couldn’t trust her because of her religious background and suggesting she might be a terrorist.
When the incident took place, another woman on the bus immediately began filming it with her phone and came to the woman’s defense. Another Muslim woman wearing a hijab also argued with the driver, asking him why he cared so much about what the 20-year-old was wearing.
“I care because this world is dangerous. If you don't see somebody's face, that's not good,” the driver explained.
“How I can see your face, you can see my face. We should see our faces,” he added.
The driver walked away to speak with his manager, insisting that “it’s nothing about racism.” His manager told him, “I’ll chat with you later.”
The woman to whom the driver was directing hostilities later spoke about the incident and said he continued to bring it up on the ride.
“He said I was scary and I was dangerous, and he kept talking about it during the journey,” she said. “He was insinuating I was going to bomb the bus.”
The woman is understandably upset about the matter.
“[F]or him to treat me like that in a public place is wrong,” she elaborated. “I had my baby with me. I've been humiliated in public, and I'm disappointed. It's 2018, we shouldn't be like that. I'm being stereotyped.”
First Bus, the company that the driver works for, explained in a statement that the driver had been “censured” and was facing disciplinary action for his distasteful comments.
“We would like to fully and unreservedly apologize to the customer for the distress caused when one of our drivers expressed his personal opinions,” the company said.
First Bus went on to say that the driver’s actions were not indicative of the company’s philosophy.
“The driver behaved in an offensive fashion that in no way reflects our deeply held values as an inclusive company which welcomes all people, irrespective of background, race, nationality or religion as customers or employees,” they added.
Prejudices like these, sadly, aren’t uncommon in Europe. While this incident was confined to a bus driver, many nations are considering and instituting entire bans on women’s wardrobe choices, singling out Muslim women’s clothing particularly in a blatant targeting against adherents of Islam.
The freedom of religion should be respected in these democratic countries. That freedom should extend to all faiths, including Islam and other non-Christian beliefs.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Andrew Kelly/Reuters