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Raja Naeem: Muslim Driver Says Taxi Officials Still Harassing Him Over Religious Garb

Categories: News, Politics

raja naeem ksdk.jpg
via ksdk.com screenshot
Raja Naeem.
In December of last year, Raja Naeem, a local Muslim taxi driver, made headlines when he alleged in a lawsuit that the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and other officials had repeatedly harassed him and eventually arrested him simply because he wanted to wear his religious garb.

That suit is moving forward, but since it was filed, Naeem and his attorneys say they have received multiple written assurances -- documents on view below -- that he is allowed to wear the religious attire in question.

But the retaliation, they say, has continued.

"This is ongoing harassment that has just not stopped," Drew Baebler, Naeem's attorney, tells Daily RFT. "He continues to wear his Muslim dress even though it comes at a price."

Officials at the commission, however, tell a different story.

"He absolutely has every right in the world to practice his religion," Ronald Klein, director of the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, tells Daily RFT. "Everybody does."

What's the discrepancy?

At question is his kufi, which is a hat, as well as his kurta, a traditional shirt. At the MTC, cab drivers have a required uniform of a white button down shirt and black trousers.

raja naeem press conference.jpg
via
Raja Naeem speaking at a press conference last year.

Naeem and his attorneys say that he has been repeatedly harassed by officials around Lambert airport, culminating in a dramatic arrest last year. Since then, he's filed suit against the city and the MTC.

"He has been pulled over and given tickets...no less than ten times," Baebler says.

But in recent weeks, there have been two significant developments in his ongoing dispute.

First, Naeem received a response from Klein to his official "alternative attire" request.

That March 15 letter, on view below, says:

The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission has determined that it is reasonable to allow alternative attire as follow:

You may wear a kurta, not to exceed thigh length. Any shirt worn, regardless of length, should be white. Any slacks or trousers should be black. The kufi is allowable.

Of note, Klein also says in the letter that he directly met with Naeem's imam with the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis "in order to discuss acceptable dress codes."

Naeem, who had refused to give the MTC his imam's name, was not pleased with this and saw this as an invasion of his privacy and a further form of harassment.

"It made him look, to his religious leader, like they didn't trust him," Baebler says of the MTC meeting with his imam. "He didn't want his religious leader to be harassed, too."

Klein argues that Naeem wasn't being cooperative and that he was just trying to get information so that they could hash out a reasonable attire compromise.

"We are trying to be as fair as we can with him," Klein tells us. "We are surely not trying to discriminate."

Continue for more on Raja Naeem's dispute and full documents in this case.


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15 comments
Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

why do companies still hire these "people"? it's just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Kriston Mahr
Kriston Mahr

If you r not sending money over seas to fund terrorist training, your fine Pretty simple.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman

If you can't wear a NRA shirt at school because its called disruptive, he should not be allowed to wear a towel on his head because it is disruptive. It goes both ways. Quit yer bitching about religious freedom. You are at work not a mosque.

Matt Irwin
Matt Irwin

oh for hells sake st louis, wake up & join in on what means to be an American: RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE, morons!!

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

next pork will be outlawed and cows will have holy asylum

Cheri Jean Sweaney
Cheri Jean Sweaney

Boss gives employee a hard time about repeatedly not wearing the required work uniform? Man, that's just crazy!

Peggy Keller
Peggy Keller

ACLU has already fought cases like this for Christians who want to wear crosses, it's an obvious violation of the discrimination act. They did not contact the pope or a pastor to verify that a cross is appropriate. They should not have contacted his Imam.

KITTY
KITTY

If this fucking piece of camel shit doesn't want to conform and wear a uniform instead of wearing Desert Drag, then deport his fat ass back to Africa. Deport all such foreigners who don't become Americanized, wear western clothes or refuse to speak English. These pieces of shit desperately want to come to America, but as soon as they get here they refuse to conform and assimilate into our society. As I have said many times since 9-11, if its got a beard and turban, kill it! Send them on the express route to those 72 virgins waiting for them in paradise!

ceebear
ceebear

@ Kitty... You're a stupid idiot.

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