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Niqab-wearing woman humiliated after bus driver made her feel like a terrorist

24th Aug 2018

Elham Asaad Buaras

A young Muslim mum has spoken of her humiliation after a First Bus driver told her she should remove her face veil.

The 20-year-old, who was travelling on the First Bus 24 from Easton to Bristol city centre, was shocked when the bus driver launched into a tirade as soon she boarded the bus with her two-month-old baby.

The incident, which took place on July 1, has been reported to the police. First Bus only got back in touch with her to apologise after local newspaper Bristol Live reported the incident on August 10.

She was wearing a niqab and had simply asked for the fare. But the driver asked her to remove the veil, insinuating she could “bomb the bus”.

“He said he couldn’t see my face and that he didn’t know what I was ‘capable of doing’,” the mum, who asked not to be named, said.

“He said I was scared and I was dangerous, and he kept talking about it during the journey. I didn’t say anything. He continued to insult me, and he made me out to be a terrorist and kept saying everyone should see each other’s faces. He asked why I was wearing a balaclava.”

 The mum added: “When we got to Primark, another woman asked me for my number and told me I should leave because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was on the bus and she said she would report him and asked for my number. She started questioning him when I got off. He was insinuating I was going to bomb the bus. How is that possible, when I have a baby with me?”

After the bus stopped at the Haymarket, the mum got off before three other women decided to confront the bus driver. One of them was a woman wearing a hijab, a headscarf.

The driver insisted he was right to ask her to remove her niqab, saying “the world was dangerous”, and that it was “not good”.

The argument was filmed before he got off to speak to a manager and got back on the bus.

The mum said: “It made me feel horrible and disappointed. I get that he might not be from the country, so maybe he has never seen a person with a face veil, but for him to treat me like that in a public place is wrong. I had my baby with me. I’ve been humiliated in public, and I’m disappointed. It’s 2018, we shouldn’t be like that. I’m being stereotyped.”

She said: “First Bus hasn’t done anything about it and the way they’ve treated me is disgusting. I want to let people know what happened. I have been humiliated and he insulted my religion, and in front of my new-born baby.”

A spokesman for First Bus said: “We would like to fully and unreservedly apologise to the customer for the distress caused when one of our drivers expressed his personal opinions and behaved in an offensive fashion that in no way reflects our deeply held values as an inclusive company which welcomes all people, irrespective of background, race, nationality or religion as customers or employees.”

“We have reminded staff of our expectations and behaviours that are demanded of them. The driver has been censured through the company’s disciplinary procedures for this incident, which is a matter the company takes very seriously. We’ve also helped the police with their enquiries and we are arranging a meeting with the customer to apologise in person and discuss matters in more detail.”

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