Austria: Muslim drivers refuse to take dogs in taxis

Customers told as a reason that most drivers would refuse to take dogs with them on religious grounds

Friday 16 August, INNSBRUCK - Gabriele Jandrasits from Innsbruck is still in a lot of anger and incomprehension.

Before her vacation, she wanted to pre-order a taxi to the airport - and take her little dog, a Beagle Jack Russell mongrel, with her in an aircraft-compatible transport cage.

But even though she called the evening before, she had been told by the radio taxi office that there was no guarantee of transport for the next morning.

She had been told as a reason that most drivers would refuse to take dogs with them on religious grounds.

She was then referred directly to a taxi number, where she was assured of advance booking and dog transport.

'If there were clear guidelines - for example that certain dog breeds may not be transported in the passenger compartment, that the dogs must be leashed and muzzled or must be carried in a transport box - I would understand that,' she said, 'but the whole thing is just arbitrary.'

Ms Jandrasits, who works for the Tyrol Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, gives another example: A former member of the association's board - the lady is fully blind - also ordered a taxi via the radio taxi centre.

Assuming that her guide dog for the blind had to be taken with her anyway, she did not even mention the dog by telephone. However, the taxi driver refused to take the dog with him.

The managing directors of the Innsbruck radio taxi centre, Anton Eberl and Harald Flecker, expressly apologise for the incidents, offer the passenger a voucher as a gesture - and confirm the problem in principle: 'We ourselves are not the owners of the taxis, but only mediators,' Flecker states.

It is a fact, however, that around 80 percent of drivers now have a migration background - and that Muslims traditionally regard dogs as 'unclean'

'We try to make drivers understand time and again that such a thing is not possible in our country and that these rides have to be carried out just like any other job.'

'At the moment we are unfortunately not able to solve this problem satisfactorily', says Flecker. In addition, there is the high fluctuation among the more than 400 drivers. 'We have to keep them informed and teach them the rules.'

Editor's comment - Austria is by no means unique in having this problem. Muslims everywhere in the West expect non-Muslims to conform to Islamic norms, and this has to be addressed. Maybe every Muslim taxi driver should be compelled by law to carry a huge smelly Labrador on the front passenger seat at all times, with severe penalties for non-compliance, until they get used to it.

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