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St. Louis Taxi Driver Claims Religious Discrimination In Suit Against City, Others

s_falkow | Flickr

Updated to correct spelling of Patti Hageman's name

A St. Louis taxi driver has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, the City of St. Louis and Whelan Security.

Raja Naeem filed the lawsuit this morning following his Dec. 7 arrest at Lambert Airport.

Faizan Syed, Executive Director of the Muslim civil liberties organization, CAIR-St. Louis announced the lawsuit at a press conference this morning, along with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.  Syed says Naeem had been warned that if he came to the airport wearing his Islamic religious clothing, he would be arrested.

“The arresting officer, also took his Kufi, which is the hat Muslim men sometimes wear, and he took that and snatched it off his head and threw it in a pile on the ground," Syed said. "And for Raja and for that group of people, it’s a really great insult to have somebody take off your hat and throw it on the ground.”

The lawsuit seeks damages and asks that the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission to stop prohibiting employees from wearing their required religious dress while in the performance of their work duties.

A spokesperson from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office says that city counselor Patti Hageman has yet to receive the suit, and therefore cannot comment.

Calls to the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and Whelan Security have not yet been returned.

Follow Julie Bierach on Twitter: @jbierach