No Lawsuit in London Headscarf Farce - Yet
by Nathaniel Sugarman • Jul 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm
Last week, two Muslim women told the BBC that a "bigoted" driver forced them to exit a Metroline bus because they were wearing Islamic headscarves. Yasmin and Atoofa, identified by the BBC only by their first names, also filed an official complaint with Metroline, though they did not immediately commence a lawsuit.
This week, The London Daily news reports that Metroline "cleared" the driver after video footage emerged which refuted the women's version of the events. In fact, it appears that the driver ejected the pair because they were being "argumentative" and "abusive" after forcing their way on to the out-of-service bus.
Though Metroline has rejected the pair's complaint, the BBC writes that Yasmin and Atoofa are seeking legal counsel—which means that a civil suit is now a definite possibility.
But a lawsuit at this stage would raise eyebrows, as the pair's intentions in filing such a suit, not to mention the merits of their case, appear to be questionable at best.
As Londonist observes:
"That the students were so keen to speak to the BBC and accuse the driver of bigotry doesn't suggest that their motives were entirely honest, and the inflation of what appears to have been at best a minor disagreement into a story of racism and legal action is a sad affair."
The Legal Project is pleased that Metroline did not prematurely discharge the driver or apologize on his behalf to placate the Muslim Council of Britain—which had already rushed to express its deep concern.
Nonetheless, we are watching this matter closely, because "minor disagreements" like these can evolve into predatory lawsuits—lawsuits without merit aimed at intimidating defendants with the prospect of litigation and legal costs. If, as it seems, Yasmin and Atoofa were lawfully ejected for abusive behavior, and video footage confirms this, the dispute should end here.
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