Some Muslim bus and taxi drivers are telling blind passengers that they can’t bring their ‘unclean’ dogs on board, it has emerged.
One blind man, George Herridge, said he had twice been asked by bus drivers to leave their vehicles because of his black labrador guide dog.
And Jill Allen-King, who speaks for the National Federation of the Blind, said she had repeatedly been left on the side of the road by Muslim taxi drivers who refused to take her dog.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said some Muslims regard a dog’s saliva as impure and so are wary of contact with the animals.
Mr Herridge, who lives in Tilehurst, Reading, said on one occasion a Muslim bus driver asked him to leave when Muslim children on the bus were screaming.
On another occasion, when a Muslim woman and her children became “hysterical”, he was asked to get off the bus.
Mr Herridge, aged 73, said he was “stunned” by the requests.
Reading Buses say dogs are “welcome” on their vehicles, and that guide dogs travel for free.
Norman Baker, Government Minister for Transport, said that owners can be asked to leave the bus if their dogs are causing a nuisance.
However, he said it would be “much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons”.
Last month The Daily Telegraph writer Judith Woods said her dog was twice barred from London buses.
She said as her friend took the dog up to a bus stop the driver said there was a Muslim woman on the bus who “might be upset by the dog”.
Writing on the Telegraph’s website Judith Woods criticised the move, saying: “I’m a Catholic, but I’m hardly likely to start insisting that no divorced people should be allowed on my bus. I have no intention of causing upset with my dog and I wouldn’t allow her to brush against anyone who was at pains to avoid her.”
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “We need to be flexible on this.”
He commented: “Muslim drivers should have no hesitation in allowing guide dogs into their bus or car.
“If a dog does lick you, it’s not the end of the world. Just go home and wash yourself.”