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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 03:00 GMT 04:00 UK
Anger at bus firm's veil ruling
Lothian bus
The bus company wants to check passengers' identification
A bus company in Edinburgh has sparked anger over rules requiring drivers to ask Muslim women wearing the veil to show their faces.

Religious groups and unions said the rules introduced by Lothian Buses to catch potential fare cheats were unnecessary.

Passengers have been told to lift their veils or produce a passport or driving licence when boarding.

The company said the rules brought them into line with airport security.

The orders were introduced in February in an attempt to stop travellers using other people's passes.

Veiled Ridacard pass holders who refuse a driver's request to show their faces would have to pay for a full fare ticket.

'Quite unnecessary'

Sohaib Saeed, events co-ordinator at Edinburgh Central Mosque, said: "This seems quite unnecessary. You have to wonder how much of a problem this really is.

"People going to all the trouble of wearing a veil just to dodge a bus fare seems an incredible effort. This rule is intrusive and it's singling people out."

Osama Saeed, from the Muslim Association of Britain in Scotland, said: "In the current climate, I don't think there are many women in Edinburgh wearing a veil, let alone getting on buses to evade fares."

However, Ian Craig, managing director for Lothian Buses, stood by the "best practice" decision.

"Guidance notes have also been issued to our drivers on how to deal with passengers wearing veils who travel using a Ridacard," he said.

Drivers are unhappy and uneasy about this. There's a real risk of causing offence
Sandy Smart
T&G union

"Our Ridacards are unique to the holder and are non-transferable. Drivers must check that any travel pass presented is not being used fraudulently."

However, the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) said bus drivers could go on strike unless the new rules were ditched.

"Drivers are unhappy and uneasy about this. There's a real risk of causing offence and their jobs are hard enough," regional industrial organiser Sandy Smart said.

"It's not particularly clever, it's a bad idea and Lothian Buses need to have a rethink."

Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sparked controversy last year when he revealed he asked Muslim women to remove their veils when they visited him at his Blackburn constituency.


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