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St. Louis Taxi Drivers Protest For Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

About two dozen taxi drivers protested outside of City Hall in St. Louis on Monday, denouncing a Muslim cab driver's arrest for wearing his religious clothing while on the job.

Raja Naeem jokes that his attorney calls him "the Muslim Rosa Parks."

The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission warned him that he couldn't wear his religious clothing while picking up customers from Lambert airport, and that he would be arrested if he did.

He wore it anyway, and says his Kufi - his hat - was thrown on the ground, which he says is a great insult.

He filed a lawsuit back in December, seeking damages and asking for the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission to stop prohibiting employees from wearing their required religious dress. 

"Still, in America I have my rights," Naeem said. "I'm not hurting anybody, I am not a terrorist."

The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission did not return a request for comment.

Naeem says he's still working as a cab driver, but is not picking customers up from the airport.

"How can somebody be arrested (for) wearing his religious dress?" Naeem said. "I don't see that in any other country, but that's what is happening in America, and that's what we're here protesting for."

The protest was organized by the St. Louis chapter of CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations), a Muslim civil liberties organization. Naeem's attorney, Drew Baebler, says the courts should decide this week if the case will be heard in St. Louis City or St. Louis County. The lawsuit is against the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, the City of St. Louis and Whelan Security.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

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