Bus driver in Bristol demands Muslim woman remove niqab

A 20-year-old Muslim mother said she felt “treated like a terrorist” after a bus driver in Bristol demanded she remove her niqab.

The anonymous young woman said the First Bus driver began berating her for wearing the niqab – a face veil that leaves the area around the eyes clear – as soon as she boarded the number 24 bus with her two-month-old baby.

A video posted online shows the driver telling her it was “not good” that he could not see her face because “the world is dangerous”.

The woman told The Bristol Post: “He said I was scary and I was dangerous, and he kept talking about it during the journey.

“He was insinuating I was going to bomb the bus. How is that possible, when I’ve got a baby with me?”

She added: “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.

“I’ve been humiliated in public, and I’m disappointed. It’s 2018, we shouldn’t be like that. I’m being stereotyped.”

First Bus has apologised and said the driver had been disciplined. The July incident was reported to the police as a possible hate crime and the company is now helping officers with their enquiries.

“We would like to fully and unreservedly apologise to the customer for the distress caused when one of our drivers expressed his personal opinions,” said a spokesman for First Bus.

“The driver 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 are arranging a meeting with the customer to apologise in person and discuss matters in more detail.”

Although the driver was stirred enough to step out of his seat and question what the woman was wearing, others on the bus – one of whom was wearing a hijab headscarf – jumped to the defence of the fellow passenger.

The witness wearing a hijab told the driver: “I don’t understand why you care how she’s dressed. It’s her choice what she wears.”

Video shows the driver stepping off the bus to explain his actions to a First Bus supervisor.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We are investigating a report of a hate crime that occurred on a number 24 bus in Bristol on 1 July at about 12.40pm. Enquiries are ongoing.”

Earlier this week Boris Johnson sparked furious criticism after he suggested Muslim women wearing niqabs and burqas resembled “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

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