Officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport abruptly dropped a plan that would have allowed Muslim taxi drivers to avoid transporting alcohol-toting customers while maintaining seniority in line.
Citing a deluge response from customers all over the world, airport officials decided to negate the plan all together.
“The retribution would have caused [the plan] to fail,” said Patrick Hogan, airport spokesman. “I’ve been getting an e-mail every 90 seconds about the issue.”
In a late September deal, Muslim drivers agreed to install a distinct light atop their vehicles, distinguishing themselves from other drivers.
Before the deal was reached, drivers who refuse to take a fare had to return to the end of a long line, often causing them to wait three or more hours.
Hogan said the “overwhelming response” made them fear that the plan would have a negative effect on all taxi drivers and the airport’s reputation.
Some Muslim scholars issued an edict banning Muslim drivers to carry alcohol. Others disagreed.
Hogan denied that their decision is based on one opinion over other. “We’re not in the business of religious interpretation,” he said. “Customer service is our concern.”
Muslim drivers, who make up at least 50 percent of airport drivers, are profoundly unhappy.
“The plan was a mutual agreement, so should any changes to it,” said Abdisalam Hashim, a Muslim and a manager of Bloomington Taxi. “After 11 meetings, why would the airport reach the swift, unilateral decision?”
Hassan Mohamud, an adjunct professor of law at William Mitchell College, who helped broker the deal, said he is very disappointed.
“The airport is ignoring more than 50 percent of its drivers,” he said. “That’s not the American way of life.”
The airport, he added, should encourage the path of solution and dialogue, not collision and conflict.
Airport officials said that they will continue to explore means to accommodate Muslim drivers and not hurt their reputation.