Muslim cabbies in Minn. lose round in court
Last update: September 9, 2008 - 12:37 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Muslim cabbies whose religious beliefs go against driving passengers who carry alcohol have lost another round in Minnesota courts.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday against the cabbies' latest attempt to block penalties from being imposed when they refuse to transport passengers because they're carrying alcoholic beverages.
An ordinance adopted by the Metropolitan Airports Commission last year revokes a cabbie's license for 30 days for refusing to pick up a passenger for any reason at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A second refusal brings a two-year revocation.
A large share of the cabbies who serve the airport are Somali Muslims, and many of them believe that Islamic law prohibits them from giving rides to people carrying alcohol. Since the commission began keeping track in 2002, there have been over 5,200 recorded instances of cabbies refusing service to passengers at the airport, including a "significant percentage" of passengers carrying alcohol, the appeals court noted.
The issue had simmered for several years before the commission decided the penalties were needed to ensure that customers would get reliable taxi service at the airport, and that compromises proposed by the drivers were impractical.
The drivers, who say the airport rules infringe on their religious freedom, appealed a lower court's refusal to grant a temporary injunction blocking those penalties from taking effect.