Florida bus driver fired over Muslim jokes

ORLANDO, FL (AP) – A bus driver was fired after a Muslim couple complained that he insulted members of their religion over the loudspeaker.

The driver, whose name was not released, was fired Thursday after Hilal Isler of upstate New York said she and her husband, Volkan Isler, were offended. The Turkish-American couple say he launched into a monologue after they boarded the I-Ride Trolley bus March 5.

Hilal Isler said he greeted passengers, told a blonde joke and then one about Muslims.

“And now they’re telling us we’re supposed to be nice to these Muslim terrorists who are trying to kill us all,” Hilal Isler recalled him saying. “Here in America, we call them ‘rag-heads’ or ‘towelheads,’ but that’s not right. What they wear on their heads is more like a sheet. We should be calling them sheetheads.”

After returning to New York, Hilal Isler, who is Muslim but does not wear a traditional head scarf, reported the incident to the Orlando Sentinel and the International Drive Master Transit and Improvement District, which owns I-Ride.

Luann Brooks, executive director of the transit company, told the Sentinel that the driver had been identified on Thursday and dismissed. Brooks said while the driver’s “conduct is not going to be tolerated,” drivers for the service are encouraged to interact with passengers and play the role of ambassadors to the area.

Associated Press, 16 March 2007