ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-Claiming he was handcuffed, arrested and humiliated for wearing his Muslim clothing at Lambert Airport, a St. Louis cab driver is suing the Metropolitan Taxi Commission, the City of St. Louis and Whelan Security alleging religious discrimination.
Raja Naeem claims he was arrested for trespassing last Thursday, after being cited previously for violating the commission’s dress code, which requires drivers to wear black pants and a white shirt. His attorney Drew Baebler says Naeem had been warned about returning the airport, “‘If you wear this again to the airport’ and he’s dropping off passengers, ‘you’ll be considered a trespasser and arrested.’ This time they arrested him and humiliated him by even taking off part of his religious garb (his kufi or hat) and throwing it on the ground.”
Baebler says Naeem applied for a religious waiver to the dress code, but was denied, “Who knows how it’s enforced because he’s done everything to comply with their request.”
Baebler says that when the commission asked for a reference to confirm that Naeem’s request was legitimate, Naeem put down the Prophet Muhammad, “But” he says, “that wasn’t good enough.”
The Commission’s General Counsel tells KMOX other Muslims have been granted exemptions so he’s not sure what happened in Naeem’s case. The suit seeks an injunction and monetary damages.
Naeem told reporters, “I want to practice my religion as well as I want to provide for my family.” He says he believes his first amendment rights are being violated, “I don’t understand how you can justify somebody wearing his religious clothes getting arrested.”
There’s been no reaction yet from the airport or Whelan Security.