A Muslim New York City taxi driver was hit with a $350 fine after refusing to allow a female passenger to sit in the front seat of his cab. Taxi driver Tamsir Drammeh argued that due to “religious reasons”, he could not allow a woman to sit so close to him and would need to be in the backseat.
Drammeh picked up the woman and her family at Penn Station and when her two children, ages 6 and 11, got in the backseat with her husband, the mother went to sit in the front seat where there was additional room. The driver refused to open the door and told her that her husband could sit up front, but she could not.
The family was quite offended and promptly exited the cab, snapped a picture of the number of the taxi and hailed a different cab.
The wife filed a complaint and alleged sex discrimination.
A city judge did not agree with his argument that his Islamic religion would forbid him from being so close to a female stranger. She told the taxi driver that he needs to keep his religion to himself when he is serving the public.
Drammeh appealed the city hearing decision and lost again on appeal.
Fellow Muslims said Drammeh’s excuse was indeed a stretch. In addition, the manager of his garage, J and I Maintenance Corp. said, “there is no such thing.”
Another driver at the garage added, “Maybe if she was drunk and wearing a skirt hiked up to here,” as he pointed to the tops of his thighs. “He wouldn’t have her in the front, but only if she is alone.”
In Drammeh’s defense, Hossein Kamaly, a Middle Eastern studies profession at Columbia University, stated that Muslims often make up their own understanding and interpretation of the religious laws. He said that while some Muslims would be comfortable with having the woman in the front seat, some would not be. Another factor is Drammeh’s age and how he was brought up, as values were different back then.
Drammeh was fined and was suspended from his job for a day. He does continue to drive and pick up passengers.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer