In “Taxi” I wrote about the Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who refuse to transport passengers visibly carrying liquor. Daniel Pipes devoted a column to the subject and followed it with notes updating his column. Today Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten explores the concerns that led to the rejection of the tentative “two-light” solution formulated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. Kathy invites readers to contribute their own comments on her new Star Tribune blog Think Again.
This story requires additional investigation. Last week’s USA Today story notes the involvement of the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society:
One driving force behind the move to accommodate the drivers’ beliefs is the Minnesota Chapter of the Muslim American Society.
MAS was founded by U.S. members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which promotes the spread of Islamic influence through political parties and militant groups in the Middle East. MAS members say they do not promote violence.
Hassan Mohamud, vice president of MAS of Minnesota says the Airports Commission decision will not help customers or taxi drivers.
“More than half the taxi drivers are Muslim and ignoring the sensibilities of that community at the airport I think is not fair,” he says.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the radical Islamist organization that originated in Egypt and has put down roots in Europe and elsewhere. See Lorenz Vidino’s excellent Middle East Quaterly essay on the MAS’s efforts to Islamize Europe and Pipes’s discussion of the MAS’s American efforts. Pipes also comments on the Muslim American Society’s goals here and points out Daveed Gartenstein-Ross’s important Standard column that looks at the Minnesota MAS chapter’s stated goals.
In his post-column notes, Daniel Pipes suggests that there may be something fabricated about the issue raised by the Muslim taxi drivers:
*Neither I nor anyone I queried has ever heard of cabbies in a Muslim-majority city raising an objection to carrying a passenger with liquor. Even Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations acknowledged that the cab drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International are the first he’s heard objecting to carrying alcohol.
*There are reasons to doubt that the drivers’ understanding of the Koranic prohibition on alcohol makes sense. The ban on alcohol concerns its consumption, not its transportation. Mohammad Al-Hanooti, a specialist on Islamic law, states that “some Islamic scholars disagree altogether with the Minneapolis Muslim cabbies’ interpretation of Islamic law.” Al-Hanooti himself explicitly finds that “it is lawful for a Muslim driver to carry a passenger who has alcohol.” He dismissed the cabbies’ concerns: “They think it is unlawful because they carry this feeling from home, because they come from Muslim countries.”
Pipes’s notes raise a question in my mind concerning the true role of the Muslim American Society in this story at the airport. In any event, the role of the Muslim American Society in the story emphasizes the importance of resistance to absurd demands made in the name of tolerance. Insofar as taxis are in the common carrier business, perhaps someone can explain that the ability to serve all comers is a bona fide occupational qualification.
UPDATE: Pipes also brings the story up to date in a column this morning, and arrives at roughly the same conclusion that I do: “No Islamic law in Minnesota, for now.”