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Spat after Uber driver grills Christian man over relationship with Muslim

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A Fairways couple are enraged after an Uber driver told them it is wrong for a Muslim woman to be dating a Christian man.

Christopher Parker was visibly angry as he recalled the incident which took place at about 5pm on Friday.

Parker and his fiancée, whose name is known to the Cape Times but is being withheld to protect her privacy, had hired an Uber cab and asked the driver to stop at a shop on Rosmead Avenue, Claremont.

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He said the trip seemed to be going smoothly until his fiancée left the vehicle to go the shop.

“He interrogated me and asked if my fiancée is still a Muslim,” said Parker.

Parker told the driver: “It is none of your business, it is personal information. He then told me it is not on for me to be in a relationship with her. I take it that because he saw I had a crucifix tattoo on my arm that he gathered I was Christian and my fiancée who booked the service has a Muslim name.”

Parker said the altercation continued and he went on to explain to the driver that his partner’s mother was a Christian woman who married a Muslim man.

He said: “My grandfather is also a Muslim. My fiancée grew up with parents from different religions and she never really embraced Islam, but why should that even matter. He was completely inappropriate. 

"She has faced this kind of discrimination in many areas of her life, including her workplace and it is not right. It is nobody’s business. And with all the racial hatred in the country, he should be taken to task.”

Parker said he had a “bad feeling” about the driver on entering the vehicle. After the situation escalated and his fiancée returned, the Uber driver put them out of the car, leaving them stranded on Rosmead Avenue.

He said: “Luckily I have a friend who lives close by imagine if we were somewhere else. What about our safety? It is complete nonsense.”

The couple took their experience to social media and received 119 shares and 64 comments. Many people responded, describing their frustration with the incident.

Following their posts on Twitter and Facebook, Uber made contact, saying they would investigate the matter.

Parker said he does not hold Uber accountable.

“I do not blame them because they cannot monitor every driver every time. But I expect them to take action because something must be done. I would not like this to happen to anyone else. It is rubbish,” he said.

Parker said his desired outcome would be a public apology.

He said if Uber did not do anything, he was considering lodging a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission.

Parker was also in possession of a live recording which detailed the incident.

Uber said they had made contact with the passengers and the driver-partner and are investigating the matter.

“We are deeply committed to the safety of all who use the Uber app. Immediately upon hearing of this, Uber took the necessary steps to investigate the allegation and is in contact with both the riders and driver-partner.

“Uber has an incident response team who are trained to deal with any issues and works with the relevant stakeholders in order to resolve any incident with a matter of urgency,” an Uber spokesperson, who did not want named, said.

Uber said drivers are immediately prevented from accessing the app if there is an allegation of wrongdoing, until an investigation is concluded.

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg a couple from the Democratic Republic of Congo were robbed after being fired at after they boarded an Uber shortly after landing at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday.

Three armed men in a white BMW confronted them, demanding their goods. The BMW had been following the Corolla from the airport, said Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo.

He said the robbers escaped in the BMW and a case of armed robbery and attempted murder has been opened.

There has been a surge in follow-homes and robberies from OR Tambo, with businesspeople, foreign and local, being the main targets.

Several tourists, an Ethiopian businessman and SA’s Competition Commission deputy commissioner Hardin Ratshisusu are among some of the victims.

Police have vowed to increase their presence on the N12 east and west after several people were robbed on Saturday night by criminals who had placed rocks in the road in a bid to obstruct motorists and rob them of their goods.

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