Bus firm rejects Muslim women's London bus ride refusal

A woman wearing a niqab
Image caption The women claim the driver said they were a "threat to him and his passengers"

A bus firm has rejected allegations one of its drivers refused two Muslim women from travelling onboard because one had her face covered by a veil.

The students, from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London, last Monday.

They claimed the driver told them they were a "threat" to passengers.

Metroline said they were denied entry due to "abusive behaviour" and rejected discrimination claims. The women said they were seeking legal advice.

An investigation was started by the bus firm after the 22-year-old women, who asked the BBC not to reveal their full names, complained.

Yasmin was wearing a hijab and her friend, Atoofa, was dressed in a niqab - which covers the face.

Yasmin claimed the driver told her he was not going to take them onboard because they were a "threat" to him and his passengers.

Muslim headscarves

The word hijab comes from the Arabic for veil and is used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in myriad styles and colours. The type most commonly worn in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.
The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf.
The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It covers the entire face and body, leaving just a mesh screen to see through.
The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap, usually made from cotton or polyester, and an accompanying tube-like scarf.
The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders.
The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear.
The chador, worn by many Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.
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The bus firm, which operates the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), told the BBC it rejected the allegations.

A spokesman said CCTV footage had been reviewed from the bus and the driver had been interviewed.

He said the women were denied entry to the bus due to "abusive behaviour" towards the driver and other passengers.

Yasmin said she boarded the bus from the back by mistake when it was out of service to ask for directions, and a recording shows her entering the vehicle.

She said she was then told to "get off the bus" by the driver, who was on a break, and laughed because she thought it was funny to be told to get off. The driver claimed she was "argumentative."

It then pulled up to the bus stop.

"When the two women board the bus again they begin to shout at the bus driver," the spokesman added.

"The women continue to be argumentative, even dismissing another passenger who tries to intervene, and at this point the bus driver refuses to allow them to board the bus."

Yasmin told the BBC she was "totally shocked" at what Metroline had to say and was taking legal advice.

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