British Columbia

Cab driver receives threatening phone message

A Muslim cab driver from North Vancouver involved in a human rights dispute with a blind man and his dog has been threatened on the phone since the case was settled two weeks ago.

Muslim community says phone threat amounts to hate crime

A Muslim cab driver from North Vancouver whowasinvolved in a human rights dispute with a blind man and his dog has been threatened on the phone since the case was settled two weeks ago.

Behzad Saidy, who cited religious reasons when he refused to allow the blind man's guide dog into his cab, told CBC News on Wednesday that his wife, who was home alone with their baby, called him on Aug. 16 at work in a panic.

"I said: 'What's happening?' She said, 'Listen to this, listen to this,'" he said.

The message left onSaidy'sanswering machine said, in part, "I know where you live, you Muslim son of a bitch."

The message was left on the machine the day after Saidy's human rights case was settled.

The complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal arose after an incident inJanuary 2006, when Saidy refused to take Bruce Gilmour and his guide dog into his taxibecausefor religious reasons — he refuses to have any contact with dogs because they are "unclean" animals.

In a settlement on Aug. 15, North Shore Taxi agreed to pay Gilmour $2,500, and to implement a policy for transporting blind people and their guide dogs under which a Muslim driver can refuse to take a blind person with a guide dog, but must call dispatch for the next available taxi and wait with the blind person until it arrives.

'I know where you live, you Muslim son of a bitch.'— Phone message

Saidy said he called another cab and said one of Gilmour's friends was verbally abusive to him.

After receiving the disturbing phone message, Saidy called police.

Aziz Khaki, a director with the Canadian Muslim Federation, says police should treat the phone message as a hate crime.

"Unfortunately, there are a number of people who believe in spreading hatred," said Khaki, adding that many people in the Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim communities have been the target of such hatred.

Now he wants police to use Canada's hate crime laws in trying to track down the person who left the threatening message.

Saidy said he didn't wantto speak out but said he's been unfairly painted as a bad man and that he was only trying to follow his understanding of his religion.

"To Muslim people, helping with disabled people is a credit to the God, but I can't be close to the dog," Saidy said.

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