Taxi companies have been reviewing their operations after a passenger went on national radio and TV late last week to report how he’d missed his flight after his taxi driver, a Muslim, insisted on stopping to pray on the way to the airport.
The incident received widespread media coverage and set off a debate over how tolerant passengers and not least the taxi companies should be in accommodating drivers’ personal needs.
The driver who pulled over to pray with his airport-bound passenger in the back seat received a reprimand and warning that he’d be fired if he did it again. Other Muslim drivers told newspaper VG that they stop at times as well, but only if their passenger accepts the delay and the meter is turned off.
Local hospitals also have complained that it can be difficult to call for taxis to drive patients home during Friday prayers. Others, including many Muslims like taxi driver Abdelali Bougedani, told VG those who insist on praying at certain times “aren’t practicing Islam correctly.”
They contend there’s room for flexibility regarding prayer times. “Being Muslim doesn’t only involve praying five times a day,” Abdi Mohammed Mohamoud, another driver, told VG. “It’s also about service and how you handle your customers. We draw a line between job and religion.”