Muslim cab driver refused to carry blind man and his guide dog
A Nottingham taxi driver who refused to carry a blind man and his guide dog because he said it was against his religion, has been fined £300.
Ali Reza Roshanmoniri was working for Cable Cars when he was called to a school where Mr Christopher Odell, who is blind and has an “assistance dog” had been working. But when he arrived at the school, Mr Roshanmoniri refused to take Mr Odell and his dog. This broke the conditions of the licence he was granted by Broxtowe Borough Council, who this week prosecuted Roshanmoniri for failing to carry a disabled person with a dog, an offence under the Disability Discrimination Act.
John Cunliffe, representing the council, told Nottingham Magistrates Court: "Most of the operators are aware that Mr Odell is blind and accompanied by his guide dog. On seeing Mr Odell’s guide dog he said it was against his religion to carry dogs in his vehicle. It was explained to him that the dog was a working dog and could not be refused carriage.”
Mr Roshanmoniri later obtained a letter from his GP saying he has an allergy to dogs, and hand-delivered it to the licensing officer at Broxtowe Borough Council. The licence Roshanmoniri was previously granted said the carrying of pets is normally at a driver's discretion, but drivers have to carry 'assistance dogs' such as those for deaf or blind people. Drivers may apply to the council for an exemption on medical grounds, but Roshanmoniri had not done this.
No checks were made to ascertain if Roshanmoniri was a Muslim – Islam generally considers dogs to be unclean. But Mr Cunliffe said that Muslims are expected to make exceptions for guide dogs and other assistance dogs.
The National Secular Society expressed satisfaction that the disability discrimination legislation had trumped so-called “religious rights”. Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS said: “No individual human right to fair and equitable treatment should ever be compromised by demands for special privileges for religion. Unfortunately, this is often what happens.”
I think this sounds pretty fair. 300 quid isn't a massive fine and the driver still has his licence despite breaching the terms of it and trying to present a dodgey medical certificate to the court, but the fine is still solid enough to make him think twice about trying to pull this stunt again. Bit rough leaving blind people stranded