For the airport, it’s about customer service. For taxi drivers, it’s about freedom of religion.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is considering tough penalties against taxi drivers who say Islam forbids them from accepting passengers who carry alcohol.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission voted Tuesday to conduct a public hearing on the matter Feb. 27. Cabdrivers, many of them Muslims from Somalia, say they are being put in a tough spot.
“Our people are ready to work with a customer always,” said Yusuf Abdullah, 32, of Minneapolis. “I would like to keep my faith, and I would like to keep my job.”
Airport Director Steve Wareham said his staff will recommend that cabdrivers who refuse a customer be given a 30-day suspension for the first offense and a two-year revocation of their airport license for a second refusal.
The current punishment is sending the cabdriver to the back of the taxi line, which can mean a wait of three or more hours, drivers said.
“You go behind 200 cabs “” that’s enough of a penalty,” said Girma Asfaw, 55, of Bloomington.