A 10-year-old boy was boarding an NYC bus in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn to head home after school. That's how many kids in the city get around as there aren't always school buses. The boy was in the doorway next to the driver and was trying to find his Metrocard to pay for the ride. He couldn't find it. As he was searching his things for the card, he said a short prayer asking for God's help to find it and that's when the bus driver decided to kick him off the bus.
The boy is Muslim. His prayer, Islamic. The bus driver called him a terrorist.
It's clear there is a crippling fear in people that they would discriminate against a 10-year-old boy for being Muslim. It's terribly sad. The boy's lawyer, Hyder Naqvi, told the New York Post that the prayer he recited is a short "run-of-the-mill" type of prayer people say when faced with a challenge. The prayer: "I start in the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent." It seemed to have worked because the boy found his card and tried to board the B-39 bus, but was denied.
I think many of us has said the same type of prayer in the words of our own religion when faced with a similar type of challenge. I say "Dear God, please ..." quite a bit myself. But because this child is Muslim, the bus driver allegedly freaked out and in a racist tirade called him a terrorist, forced him backward off the bus, and shut the doors.
Let's remember this boy is 10. I cannot imagine the pain, the anger, the humiliation he must have felt. He didn't deserve to be treated that way. The driver had no right to deny him a ride.
When he finally got home, the boy told his parents who then decided to talk to a lawyer. They are suing the MTA for "religious discrimination and civil-rights abuses." And while I'm not a sue-happy person, I think they need to do this if only to make a point, to get the word out that children are being discriminated against because people are ignorant.
If I could talk to that boy, I'd like him to know that the actions of that driver do not reflect the thoughts of many. And we can be the change together, and hopefully help others change as well.
What do you think of this bus driver's actions?
Image via Rian Castillo/Flickr