While waiting for the bus, two women were shocked when a bus driver pulled up to the stop, took one look at them, and sped off. However, once they caught up to him at a red light, he told them exactly why he wouldn’t allow them on the bus.
At the Botzaris bus stop in Paris at around 11 p.m., 29-year-old Elise Bencheikh and her female friend stepped up to the platform of bus No. 60 to board it, according to Le Parisien. Oddly, the doors didn’t open, and the young women looked up to see a male Muslim driver looking them over suspiciously. The women were shocked when the driver finally put the bus in gear and drove off, leaving them alone at the stop in the middle of the night.
With centuries of immigration from all corners of the earth, the West has become the proverbial melting pot of the world, boasting the most diverse demographics of all. Now, even something as trivial as waiting for public transportation can summon a cultural clash.
Confused and angry, Elise and her friend ran after the bus, catching up with it at a red light a few meters away. Through the driver’s open window, the women then demanded to know why he had refused to let them on the bus. It was his casual attitude and answer that shocked them.
The Muslim driver told the women that he would not allow them on the bus because they were wearing skirts, which showed their legs. He reportedly told the pair, “You just have to get dressed,” gesturing at their lower halves before once again driving off. The case appears to be one of sexism and discrimination.
Elise’s testimony was relayed to reporters by her father, Algerian poet and author Kamel Bencheikh, who had apostatized from Islam years ago. He later took to social media to reveal what the driver had done, which was already being reported by several French outlets.
“In the 21st century, in the capital of Elightenment. It’s crazy!” Bencheikh replied. “This guy who drives a bus paid by my taxes prevented my daughter, holder of a valid [bus] pass and therefore in good standing, who never did anything wrong…Just because she was wearing a skirt.”
After posting about the incident on Facebook, Bencheikh was suddenly reported and censored for “hate speech” by the social media site. Despite his exact words being reported by several media outlets, he was punished by Facebook and accused of inciting hatred against Muslims.
“I am accused of inciting hatred. But I published the facts because I wanted them to be taken again, to denounce this behavior,” he wrote.
Although the transit company has assured Bencheikh that they will address the issue with the driver, it isn’t enough for the indignant father. He insists that, unless the issue is properly handled, it will continue to happen to women across the country.
“I will not let go,” he says. “We have not done it until then, because my daughter is traveling, but we will go to the end.”
Bencheikh is demanding a public apology from the transit company and for the driver to be held accountable for his unprofessional and discriminatory actions. It is unclear whether the driver will be reprimanded or if Bencheikh and his daughter will receive justice. So far, only Bencheikh has been punished for speaking out on the incident and defending the women.