Rule on veils changed after woman kept off bus in Michigan city

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan: After a woman passenger wearing traditional Islamic dress was turned away, the public bus system in this Michigan city said Friday it will end its rule keeping those with face coverings from boarding public transit vehicles. System administrators said the refusal in July was an isolated incident.

A driver told the unidentified woman she would have to uncover her face to ride, but she was able to board another bus that same day. She reported the incident to bus system administrators, transit officials told The Grand Rapids Press newspaper.

Busing officials regret that the woman was turned away and have apologized to her, Rapid spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk said. She said the original order was a security issue, so that an on-board camera system could help identify riders in the event of a disturbance. She said religious dress or other coverings were not considered.

Debbie Mageed, an area Islamic activist, said she appreciated Rapid’s response. “We can’t expect all public domains to be aware of these situations until they actually come up,” said Mageed, who wears a head covering but not a facial veil. “As long as it doesn’t happen again, I’ll feel like they were sincere in their efforts to revise their policy.”

Associated Press, 8 December 2006