// Metro Transit investigating allegations of Muslim harassment (Halifax, Nova Scot
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« on: Mar 18, 2009 08:16 PM »


http://www.metronews.ca/halifax/local/article/197166

FYI - Halifax is located about 700 miles north east of Boston, in Canada, on the east coast.


Paul McLeod, Metro Halifax
16 March 2009 12:00
Metro Transit said it will “get to the bottom” of allegations that a bus driver harassed a Muslim couple last week.

The Islamic Association of Nova Scotia was among the voices calling for a public apology after the driver allegedly refused to let the couple on the bus because the woman was wearing a head scarf.

Eyewitness Sarah Wilbur told CBC Radio the couple tried to board the number 17 bus on Tuesday morning at the corner of Jubilee and Robie Street. But the driver allegedly refused to let them on and began yelling at the couple because only the woman’s eyes were visible through the headdress.

"The bus driver was standing up, raising his voice," Wilbur told CBC. "He was saying, 'I'm not letting you on this bus. That's the law, that's the law,' he kept repeating."

After about 10 minutes Wilbur said the driver agreed to call Metro Transit for advice and then allowed the couple on board as he continued his route.

On Friday Metro Transit released a statement that avoided any details of what happened, but said they were looking into it.

“As you are aware, there has been an allegation made against a Metro Transit bus driver. We take these allegations very seriously. The kind of behaviour reported is not and will not be tolerated,” said Metro Transit General Manager Patricia Soanes.

Soanes said Metro Transit is doing an internal investigation and is conducting interviews with the driver and eyewitnesses. She also stressed that Metro Transit believes in fostering diversity.

“If this situation has been described accurately – then it is most regrettable and we will get to the bottom of it,” said Soanes.

“Appropriate action will be taken. In our organization, we hold people accountable for their behaviours.”


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« Reply #1 on: Mar 18, 2009 08:24 PM »

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/03/13/ns-bus-muslim.html

Halifax bus driver hassles Muslim woman over headdress: eyewitness

Bus drivers' union apologizes, Metro Transit seeks details

Last Updated: Friday, March 13, 2009 | 5:43 PM AT

Metro Transit is investigating a complaint that a bus driver tried to stop a Muslim woman from boarding his vehicle because her face was covered.

Sarah Wilbur told CBC News she was outraged by what she saw Tuesday morning at a bus stop in south-end Halifax.

She said she could hear the bus driver yelling as a Muslim couple stepped onto the No. 17 bus at the corner of Jubilee and Robie streets.

"The bus driver was standing up, raising his voice," Wilbur said. "He was saying, 'I'm not letting you on this bus. That's the law, that's the law,' he kept repeating."

Wilbur decided to intervene.

"I got on the bus and I said, 'This doesn't sound like the law to me. It sounds like discrimination.'"

Wilbur said the driver was upset that the woman was wearing a headdress that allowed only her eyes to show.

"The bus driver said, 'Do you think you could go to a bank dressed like that? Do you think you could go to a bank with your face covered?'" said Wilbur.

Wilbur stayed on the bus for the next 10 minutes, urging the driver to call Metro Transit for advice. After making the call, the driver resumed his route with the couple on board.

Wilbur later complained about the incident to Metro Transit. She said the Islamic Association of Nova Scotia has filed its own complaint. The group couldn't be reached for comment.

Saleem Ahmed, a past president of the association, said Friday he was surprised to hear about the incident.

"This sort of incident has never happened in Halifax, especially on a Metro Transit or anything related to municipal services," he said. "Halifax has been fairly peaceful."

Ahmed said the incident should force Metro Transit to rethink the way it trains drivers.

Union apologizes
Dan MacDonald, president of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, called it an unfortunate incident. He said he has spoken to the driver and the driver is apologetic.

"On behalf of the Amalgamated Transit Union and its members, we apologize to this couple," MacDonald said.

Lisette Cormier, spokeswoman for Metro Transit, said an investigation is underway. She said officials confirmed the incident happened, but haven't spoken to the driver yet.

"There's no policy per se, but there is a practice in place where an operator can ask a person with his or her face covered to remove the item of clothing. In this particular case the operator called for clarification, which is the right thing to do," Cormier said.

According to the policies and guidelines on Metro Transit's website, drivers can deny access to passengers or kick them off if they cause a disturbance or damage the bus.

As for clothing, the website only says passengers are required to wear a shirt or top and footwear.

Cormier said Metro Transit will be drafting a new policy about wearing veils or scarves on the bus.

Getting the facts
In an official statement released late Friday afternoon, Metro Transit general manager Patricia Soanes said officials will speak to everyone involved to get all the facts.

"We take these allegations very seriously. The kind of behaviour reported is not and will not be tolerated," she said.

"HRM and Metro Transit have very firm guidelines with respect to appropriate behaviours. If this situation has been described accurately – then it is most regrettable and we will get to the bottom of it."

Your heart will not truly open until you understand Surah 21 : Verse 92  (Al-Anbiya: The Prophets)

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« Reply #2 on: Mar 18, 2009 08:25 PM »

Full statement by Metro Transit general manager Patricia Soanes (released late Friday afternoon):

As you are aware, there has been an allegation made against a Metro Transit bus driver.

We take these allegations very seriously. The kind of behaviour reported is not and will not be tolerated.

We will be speaking to everyone who was involved to understand exactly what happened. This matter is under investigation, we want to understand exactly what happened. As you can appreciate, we want to be very thorough and get all the facts.

HRM values the diversity of its citizens and we encourage and foster a positive and respectful attitude in our employees. Respecting diversity is one of our organization's strengths. We constantly strive to build a workforce that represents and is sensitive to the differing views, ideas, life experiences, skills, background, races and religions that make HRM an accepting and welcoming place to live and work.

HRM and Metro Transit have very firm guidelines with respect to appropriate behaviours. If this situation has been described accurately — then it is most regrettable and we will get to the bottom of it.

Appropriate action will be taken. In our organization, we hold people accountable for their behaviours.

Your heart will not truly open until you understand Surah 21 : Verse 92  (Al-Anbiya: The Prophets)

Help Build the Community! Visit:
Madinat al-Muslimeen > The City > Naseeha Corner > Community Toolbox
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