A Muslim man thrown off a National Express coach after other passengers complained his appearance made them feel “uncomfortable” – is a British student studying for a degree.
Ibrahim Mohamed Ismail, 42, who is studying Chinese, was asked to disembark moments after boarding the Bristol to London Victoria coach with three rucksacks.
He today (weds) comdemned the bus company for leaving him “humiliated” and “discriminating” him simply because he is a Muslim.
The Open University student Ibrahim said: “I believe I was asked to leave because of the way I was dressed, and the fact I’ve got a beard.
“They asked me to leave because I was a Muslim. Is that not discrimination?
“I was angry. I feel I was discriminated again and treated differently to everyone else because of my religion.”
Ibrahim, a practising Muslim, has lived in Britain as a citizen for 15 years since he fled war-torn Somalia.
He added: “Everybody could see it was because I’m a Muslim. There were other black people on the bus, but the driver didn’t say anything to them. But because I’m a black Muslim, it seems it became a problem.
“Clearly the driver didn’t have an issue with my luggage when I got on the coach, because we had a conversation about it and he allowed me on despite having the bags that I had.”
Ibrahim’s bus ticket cost £25, which has not been refunded, and was later forced to pay £56 for a return train ticket from Bristol Temple Meads.
He said: “I felt very humiliated. People were watching me, and one person shouted at me that I was delaying the bus.
“I felt very humiliated. People were watching me, and one person shouted at me that I was delaying the bus. I bought the ticket around 10am, and got on the bus early.
“They said I had to put my biggest bag under the bus, and I told him that something could break and I wanted to take it on the bus.
“I told him I would take the small blue bag and put the biggest bag in the hold. I agreed with him that.”
One passenger said a group of women sitting at the front of the coach had been “making their feelings very obvious” and were “silent and staring at him.”
Another passenger then THANKED the women and told them they had also felt uncomfortable.
Student Rebekah Makinde, 21, who was on the bus, said she was ‘truly appalled’ at what appeared to be a clear case of Islamophobia.
Sje said: “As soon as he got on the coach, the women at the front were just silent and staring at him. They were making their feelings very obvious.
“As soon as the man sat down, one of the women went to speak to the driver. Another member of staff then came on and asked the man to get off.
“He didn’t protest or anything, he just got off. What disgusted me the most was that someone actually thanked the woman after he left.”
Rebekah said she asked the driver why the man had been asked to leave – and was told it was because he wouldn’t put a printer he was carrying in the storage hold.
She added: “It’s ridiculous. Everyone had luggage with them on the coach, I had bags and my laptop on my seat next to me and nobody said anything about that.
“The coach wasn’t even that busy and there were plenty of free seats.
“It was only when the woman raised her concerns about the man saying she felt uncomfortable that he was asked to leave.
“I heard the entire exchange between the woman and the driver and I know luggage was not the reason he was asked to leave.
“I understand that drivers want their passengers to feel comfortable.
“But not if it stems from someone’s unfounded and Islamophobic beliefs and at the expense of another paying passenger. I am truly appalled.”
Ibrahim was originally reluctant to report the incident to police but is now considering his options.
A spokesman for National Express said: “We categorically deny an incident in which a passenger was asked to leave one of our coaches was in any way discriminatory.
“The gentleman concerned boarded with excess luggage which became an issue for a number of our other customers.
“He refused to put the excess luggage in the hold when requested, was abusive towards our staff and walked out of the station.
“Our staff, who often have to make difficult decisions at short notice, remained professional throughout and are extremely upset at these serious allegations which are both unfounded and untrue.”