"Muslim Dispute: Religious Intolerance?" a Commentary by Leonard Pitts Jr.

January 21, 2007


Source: Houston Chronicle


OK, let's say you fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul. Let's say you're carrying alcohol - rum from the Caribbean, a merlot you found in Napa Valley. Let's say you try to hail a cab while carrying said alcohol.

Good luck. You're going to need it.

Three quarters of the drivers serving the airport are Muslims, most from Somalia, and in recent years, many have refused to carry passengers carrying alcohol because Islam frowns on liquor. Dozens of passengers have reportedly been left stranded. Occasionally, even blind people using seeing-eye dogs have been refused passage by drivers citing Islamic teachings that the saliva of dogs is unclean.

After simmering for years, the issue has come to a boil. Last week, the local airport commission scheduled a public hearing to discuss stiffening penalties for the wayward cabbies. As things now stand, a driver who refuses to carry you and your booze has to go back to the end of the cab line and wait hours for another fare. According to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, new rules have been proposed which would require a 30-day suspension for a first offense and revocation of a cabbie's airport license for two years after the second.

Sounds good to me, but Khalid Elmasry disagrees. He's spokesman for a group called the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. Here's the MASM's idea: Color-code the taxis according to whether the drivers accept alcohol.

Yeah, because flying is not enough of a hassle already.