NY Muslim taxi driver told to keep his religion to himself
Tamsir Drammeh, inset above, has been fined $350 for refusing to allow a woman to ride alongside him in the front of his cab.
Drammeh, 64, played the religion card in his defence, claiming that Islam forbids him from being too close to a female stranger.
But city judge Laura Fieber didn’t buy his argument. She told the cabby he needs to keep his religion to himself when serving the public.
That his religion did not allow him to sit next to a woman is not an acceptable defence in an occupation that is operated to serve the public.
Of significance, respondent made it clear that the husband would be welcome in the front seat, while the wife/complainant would not be.
Fellow Muslims said on Friday that Drammeh’s excuse was a stretch. “There’s no such rule in Islam,” said the manager at his garage, J and I Maintenance Corp in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, who refused to give his name. “There’s no such thing.”
Drammeh was at a taxi stand on Eighth Avenue when a family of four walked up. He opened the trunk from his seat so that the family could stow their luggage.
The husband and kids, 6 and 11, got into the back, and the mom went to the front passenger door, which Drammeh refused to unlock.
The woman asked whether there was a problem, and all Drammeh would say is that her husband could sit up front, but that she was not welcome.
The family snapped a photo of Drammeh’s medallion number and hailed a different cab.
The wife filed a complaint alleging sex discrimination, and Drammeh lost the case twice — once in a regular city hearing and again on appeal.
At his hearing, the driver claimed that the woman was belligerent and cursed him. He said he eventually and reluctantly invited her to sit up front.
Hossein Kamaly, a Middle Eastern studies professor at Columbia University, said Muslims often make up their own interpretations of the legitimate laws of Islam.
There are some Muslims who wouldn’t be comfortable with that and some who would. He’s an older man and probably an immigrant, so it’s closer to the way that he was brought up.