Taxi Commission Suspends License of Muslim Driver Raja Naeem: Religious Discrimination?

raja-naeem-family-1.jpg
Courtesy of Raja Naeem
Raja Naeem and his youngest child.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission has suspended the license of Raja Naeem, a Muslim driver who has fought for many months for his right to wear religious garb. And this week, Naeem and his attorneys have pushed forward with the legal battle, filing both a petition for review with the circuit court of the city of St. Louis and a motion for an injunction in the ongoing religious discrimination lawsuit.

"I've got kids to feed. I'm very stressed out, there's no doubt about it," Naeem tells Daily RFT. "Should I stay with my religion or should I leave it? I am determined to stay with my religion."

Naeem argues that he has a constitutional right to wear his kurta, a traditional shirt, and that the commission -- which is responsible for the licensing and regulation of drivers -- has been harassing him with tickets and fines.

See also: St. Louis Cabbies Allowed to Wear Blues Gear As Muslim Driver Fights to Wear Religious Garb

Ronald Klein, director of the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), however, continues to assert that there has been no religious discrimination of any kind and that the commission has even made efforts to accommodate his needs. (The MTC's dress code is white button down shirts and black trousers; officials say it helps make drivers recognizable to passengers).

Klein and the commissioners have faced a series of formal complaints and legal fights from Naeem and a group of supportive drivers and attorneys. Most recently, as we reported on Monday, a coalition of cabbies are disputing with MTC over the use of the Square credit card reader, a popular technology that is used all over the country, but currently banned in St. Louis taxicabs.

raja-naeem-family-2.jpg
Courtesy of Raja Naeem
Raja Naeem with his wife and four children.

In the religious discrimination case, which began last December, Naeem has been issued many violations for his choice of clothing.

"This is a real test for me," says Naeem, who has four daughters, an eight-month-old, a five-year-old, a seven-year-old and a twelve-year-old.

See also: Porn Playing In St. Louis Taxi? After Woman's Allegations, Commission Bans Videos In Cabs

"What they've continued to do is harass Raja and give him tickets," says attorney Drew Baebler, who filed the new petitions this week. "He is just trying to exercise his religion while supporting his family. It's a shame that a commission from the state of Missouri is keeping him from doing that."

raja naeem press conference.jpg
via KSDK (Channel 5)
Raja Naeem speaking at a press conference last year.

Baebler has requested a preliminary and permanent injunction against the MTC to block the tickets and fines as the lawsuit is pending, arguing that "a suspension will have a deleterious effect and will cause immediate economic deprivation to the Plaintiff."

The request continues:

The Plaintiff has no immediate action at law to redress this claim, because, by the time his civil action has been heard, the economic harm to himself and his family of four children and a wife will be sustained and irreversible;

As stated in Plaintiff's previous Petition, Raja Naeem has a constitutional right to exercise and practice his religion as he feels is necessary.

"They are trying to run roughshod over him," Baebler says.

Continue for more from Drew Baebler and response from MTC director Ronald Klein.

My Voice Nation Help
63 comments
David Goldstick
David Goldstick

Not a big surprise. The Taxi Commission forbids the use of Square as well. Haters...

Ryan Sherman
Ryan Sherman

Hes one of the nicest cabbies ive met. let him wear what he wants. I can tell he was a genuinely nice person. Didn't make me feel weird at all. Ive been in Chicago cabs and they all dress in their cultures clothing.

Sarah G Mitchell
Sarah G Mitchell

If we lived in the middle east, they would drag our ass to the street beat us to death then drag our dead corpse all over to show how much they hate Americans, they come over here and were suppose to roll over, and do as they want, its not going to happen.

Ksmith Wash
Ksmith Wash

I am embarrassed that my city could be this mindless and not allow this human being to just do his job! He has the right to wear whatever their initial dress code required!

CD13
CD13

How about not running a cab business in a residential neighborhood, specifically at Mississippi and Allen. Every night there are a dozen Harris cabs sitting around. 

Denise Schrader Laumeier
Denise Schrader Laumeier

Funny, one of them t boned my brother and its funny but he disappeared and my brother had to pay for the damage. I can't feel any pity.

mnalpk07
mnalpk07

Every one has religious right in this country, thats what is this country based on. 

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

Wow, maybe you wouldn't be so angry if you just came out of the closet?? You are so filled with self hate that you can not even write a correct sentence. I pity you. I am putting you on ignore since I know having the last word is so important to you, and I will never even see it- bye sweet pea.

Ksmith Wash
Ksmith Wash

YES TOTAL DISCRIMINATION! As long as he is doing his job what he wears should not be the focus!!!!!!

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Sounds like you're all a bunch of bigots.

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Who the hell cares what he wears? His job is to drive, and if he can drive then so be it.

Billy Casagrand
Billy Casagrand

hey Christians. can wear cross necklaces. and no one gives them a hard time, hes got bills to pay and a mouth to feed lime the rest of us, mi.d u its kinda at his own risk having to deal with rascism that may come with the territory

Paul Pittman
Paul Pittman

What cabs have you been in where the driver has on a uniform?

winonahh
winonahh

I support him expressing his religion through his clothing just as I'd support a Sikh wearing a turban & kirpan or a Christian wearing a cross, etc. 

John Hoppes
John Hoppes

I would prefer clothing of any type to none at all. If the customers don't like it they can take the next cab.

Matt Higgins
Matt Higgins

I'm okay with cab drivers wearing anything they want, just the driver is clean and doesn't stink!

Jeff Flash Thompson
Jeff Flash Thompson

I didnt respond to you kristin cause clearly your emotions get in the way of logic clearly you called a name and cant read to even see it which your last post you did it again, you're busy and have a life yea ok most ppl in stl say that lol funny I only find busy people on the east coast, its too slow paced in stl for you to be so busy and i bet you're part of the fat population in stlouis too, loser, im hitting the beach, now peace out bitch

Jodi Fox
Jodi Fox

Give him a camel and a carriage, he can give rides around Kiener Plaza.

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

WHAT NAME DID I CALL YOU? You can't even answer the very first question I asked you. Argue with emotion? I sound like a liberal? And what fact was I trying to prove? I understand now that all this fluff you are spewing is because you simply can not back up the statement YOU made. In the future, if you can't answer a simple question about a statement, then might I suggest you don't make it. You still can't even list the "rule" you spouted off about. That was my original question to you. Take responsibility for that. Peace out bitch- it's Friday night and I have better shit to do than argue with an idiot who is incapable of backing his shit up. Better luck next time.

Richard Peitz
Richard Peitz

Taxi cab commissions are in a lot of cities, DC wouldn't you know it has some controversy going on too. My opinion is that if the commission allows the drivers to wear Blues garb, they have kinda opened a door for any garb. So they may have a situation here. A dress code is a dress code period. There isn't any religious anything about it, the code was there when he took the job, if he didn't like it do something else. He's just trying to line his pockets with unearned cash

Jay Hemp
Jay Hemp

The funny thing is in this country you here so much about christians being persecuted and how you can't say "merry christmas" anymore, but this country discriminates against every religion other then christianity...

Adam Fry
Adam Fry

costumes are for Halloween

Jeff Flash Thompson
Jeff Flash Thompson

you sound like a liberal, you argue with pure emotion, do you want to start posting some facts and coherent thoughts to support your stance? Can you plz do that? guess not libs, have a good one kristin cause you did name call and like a liberal you dont take responsibility for it, typical

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

And you ignored my question that I first asked you. What name calling??? You're delusional. There, now I called you a name!!

Jeff Flash Thompson
Jeff Flash Thompson

so you ignore something but focus on one thing in particular? ok im done going back and forth with you and your juvenile name calling.

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

No, didn't miss it. Just ignored it for all the ignorance it projects. Am I a Liberal? What the fuck does that have to do with anything??

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

I think it's just rules...follow them and everything is fine...choose otherwise and there may be consequences...dress codes are part of many jobs. If you want to wear your Muslim garb, find a job that doesn't have a dress code.

Jessica Rynders
Jessica Rynders

It's discrimination. I mean some of the clothing other religions and cultures wear are required. People don't have to agree with it, but to discriminate against it is just wrong. We live in a world where too many people think their way is the only way.

Scott Malone
Scott Malone

If there is a dress code then NO it isnt but if they can wear what they want then Yes!!!!simply done,over!!!!!cosense

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

This isn't a business with a dress code. These are government regulations passed by an appointed commission to be followed by private companies & their employees.

Tony Loquasto
Tony Loquasto

churches are offensive to me. they seem to be breeding grounds for ignorant hateful bigots

Jeff Flash Thompson
Jeff Flash Thompson

obv you missed the part about what the muslim world does, are you a liberal?

Catherine Claire
Catherine Claire

I don't understand why he's still complaining. He has been granted a variance to wear his clothing as long as his long shirt/dress is white and his pants are black. Look at the pictures - he is on air complaining about having to wear a white top while choosing to wear a white top?!?! WHAT?! Besides, there is nothing in this article stating that he cannot wear his kufi (hat).

Kristin Scudder
Kristin Scudder

Change to our rules or leave? What "rule" was he breaking? Being Muslim??

Craig Richason
Craig Richason

This is Missouri, where talk of religious discrimination only applies to the "War on Christmas" with Nativities outside city hall.

El Shabai
El Shabai

this is the persecuted being hated for believing they way they do...strangely---the christians claims these people would persecute them....though they live among us peacefully, will go among them with hate at heart because of who they are.

DoucheMcGee
DoucheMcGee topcommenter

@Sarah G Mitchell You are clearly an idiot. it's religious garb, covered by our constitution.

amiablejak
amiablejak

@El Shabai  that's a lot of judgement, claims, knowing what is happening in someone's heart, and generalization of an entire group: almost what you are trying to speak against?

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