The Blind, The Dogs, and Intolerance
From Paul Cassell
A driver told a blind cancer sufferer to get off his bus when a woman and her children became hysterical at the sight of his guide dog.
George Herridge, 71, told how the lady went into a rage and shouted at him in a foreign language. A passenger explained she wanted him to get off the bus.
Mr Herridge, said: “Her child was kicking and screaming and someone off the bus told me her child was frightened of my dog. The driver said, ‘Look mate, can’t you get off?’
“I stood my ground. I had not done anything, my dog had not done anything and I was getting off the bus for no one.”
The retired NHS worker claimed he was forced off a bus by a driver after a similar encounter last summer.
And a day after the latest bus incident an lady began screaming “I don’t like dirty dogs” at Mr Herridge at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
A week earlier he faced further animosity from a couple at Asda in The Meadway, he said.
He is unsure what has provoked outbursts but said he thinks some have come from Asian people and that it may be due to religious or cultural differences.
If the people who were upset were Muslim, they consider dogs to be ritually unclean.
Some may have them as pets but keep them in a separate living area. Anything coming into contact with its saliva, such as clothes, must be washed seven times if they intend to pray in those clothes.
Mr Herridge said: “I do not expect any special treatment but just to be left in peace and live my life the best I can.”
Reading Buses accepted the driver was wrong but had been placed in an “impossible situation”. No, he COULD have asked the freaked out people to get off the bus instead. That's not impossible.
Drivers have been re-instructed to convey the blind and the bus company has sought advice from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and hopes to speak with Muslim leaders.
As part of a Muslim Council of Britain project, Mufti Zubair Butt, Shar’ia advisor to Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS, admitted Muslims “require some education” on guide dogs.
In response to concerns raised about guide dogs in mid-2008, he said: “It is important that one does not impose one’s own understanding upon others, but one shows understanding and compassion for others, their needs and their views, especially in an open communal space and in a country where Muslims are living as a minority.” Translation: try to blend and mingle better.