So here’s what happened last Saturday- Maria Mughal, three friends and a child were on their way to Toronto’s Waterfront, they hailed an Uber cab and wanted the Uber driver to take another route to their destination. The Uber driver refused saying he knew best. Mughal and her friends then broke into Urdu, and in all probability were discussing this stubborn driver who was stuck in traffic. At some point in their conversation, the Uber driver interrupted and said: “Muslim Pakistani women should keep quiet.” Whoa!
Ms Mughal in a media interview called that “racism”. That would be the case had the Uber driver been White, it would also be called Islamophobia and rightly so, but in this case, the driver Mohammed Mahbubul Haque was in all probability a Pakistani or atleast Muslim. Maria Mughal is quoted saying, she was shocked this could happen in Canada and fretted about women’s safety in this city.
Back to the story, after Mr Haque suggested Pakistani women be quiet, the agitated women protested. The irate driver then drove rashly and dropped them off at a different location, but in the area of their intended destination-Queens Quay.
Ms Mughal then proceeded to take pictures of the driver she’d show to the authorities when she complained about him. That got him mad and he asked her to delete the images, she refused and he grappled with her and in the process she suffered minor injured, naturally then, she was rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Having never been accustomed to rudeness and sexism ever, Ms Mughal is deeply shaken, it is almost like she is suffering PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) She can’t work and says she finds it unable to think about anything other than what happened that day. The Uber driver was arrested and Uber confirmed he won’t be driving for them anymore.
So was this racism or sexism imported from the old country by the Uber driver? The women were passing derogatory comments about him in Urdu a language he understood which must’ve ticked him off.
Arguing and shouting loudly is the way many South Asians often settle disputes. Was it necessary to take a picture of the already incensed driver? Could a complaint not be made without causing a scene? This is not to say the Uber driver was in anyway justified in talking back to these passengers neither did he have any right to manhandle Ms Mughal.
Meanwhile the city says it will begin individual screening and licensing of Uber drivers by the end of August under a new set of rules enacted in mid-July.
Disputes between taxi drivers/Uber drivers and passengers are to be expected from time to time the important thing from a safety point of view for both male and female passengers is to de-escalate the issue, take down the license number and complain to the authorities later. There is little sense in berating a driver and saying or doing things that could spark off a physical altercation. That’s the takeaway for anyone following this story. But this is not racism. Chances are this driver would’ve acted in the same way with any women under similar circumstances. It could also be that he was having a particularly rough day. – CINEWS