A man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after a viral video was published showing a taxi driver being subjected to a foul-mouthed tirade.
In a minute-long video posted on social media, driver Abid Mustafa coolly handles a white male passenger who rants “this is England”, and “we’ll blow you out the f****** water”.
The 39-year-old cabbie even warned the man at one stage: “I will put this on Facebook now buddy, and more people will see you and what you’re saying.”
But the man, who could be heard apparently slurring his words during footage filmed in Birmingham, responded: “I don’t give a flying f*** mate.
“Do you really think I give a flying f***?”
West Midlands Police said that a 53-year-old man was arrested in the Erdington area on Thursday afternoon on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.
The victim is being spoken to by officers and the investigation continues, the force added.
Father-of-four Mr Mustafa, who is being made the first honorary ambassador of the West Midlands Taxi Drivers’ Association (WMTDA) for the way he handled the incident, said he had been “hurt” by what happened.
In the last few weeks Mr Mustafa has shuttled vital Covid-19 samples for the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust during the pandemic, before being subject to the passenger’s abuse.
Mr Mustafa said the passenger started his tirade as soon as he was picked up in Birmingham and that he stopped to warn his fare.
“He promised to stop doing it, then as soon as we got going again, after about 50 metres he started up again,” said the taxi driver, who began recording at the end of the journey.
The words do hurt usAbid Mustafa
He said: “I have a heart and emotions and it does hurt.
“The words do hurt us.
“But I chose the profession and I have to face these challenges – if I chose to be in the Army I would face battles, and this is the same.”
Mr Mustafa, who lives in Erdington and is licensed by Wolverhampton City Council, hopes footage of the incident, which happened on May 15, will prompt councils to fit CCTV in taxis, to protect drivers and passengers, and show the public what drivers have to put up with.
“On all other public transport, like trams, buses and trains, there are cameras, so why can’t we have CCTV in cabs?” he said.
“At least 80-90% of this type of abuse would stop then.”
Having spoken to colleagues, Mr Mustafa believes every BAME driver in the West Midlands has been subject to racist abuse from a passenger at one point or another.
Echoing that view, Shaz Saleem, of the WMTDA, said it was poor reward for taxi driver key workers, who have done a vital job ferrying supplies, medical samples and other emergency workers during the pandemic.
He said: “I understand the row started because Abid asked the gentleman to sit in the rear seats, because of Covid-19 controls – which are there to keep both the passenger and driver safe.”
Mr Saleem added: “This story is powerful.
“Yes, there is a negative, and we all know what happened in the United States with George Floyd, and we need more support here from councils and the police.
“This driver responded with patience, calm and professionalism should be held up, in comparison to the passenger’s behaviour.
“I guarantee you that if the driver had responded to that behaviour in any way, he’d have lost his licence.”
As the video, which has been viewed more than a million times on Twitter, starts, the man is sitting in the front passenger seat, next to Mr Mustafa, with the taxi stationary.
The passenger then said: “Who do you think you are?
“You think you’re something special – Pakistan?”
The passenger then apparently refers to an incident from last year in which Indian warplanes conducted airstrikes on their neighbour.
Lots of people are asking us about this video - we are aware of it and are making inquiriesWest Midlands Police
The man said: “I’ll tell you what, no wonder the Indians are bombing you,” ending the sentence with a laugh.
“You’re never going to win that battle are you?”
The taxi driver, who stays cool and polite throughout the abuse, responded: “That’s fine,” handing the man his change from the fare.
His passenger then said: “And this is England, by the way.
“And you’re in a f****** job – in England. So respect this country, that you’re in.”
The driver replied: “Thank you very much sir.”
Pointing to a camera facing both men, the cabbie then said: “I will put this on Facebook, now buddy, and more people will see you and what you’re saying.
“Because people can see your face as well.”
Despite the warning, the passenger said “I don’t give a flying f***.”
The driver then told the man that he will be charged a 25p-a-minute waiting time charge, if the man does not go, adding “thank you mate, we’re all done here”.
The passenger then leaned across towards the driver, inches from his face, and said: “I’ll tell you what, do you think Pakistan are going to beat the English?”
The driver responded: “We’re not here for a competition, sir.”
But the passenger said: “Well I’ll tell you what about wars, wars?
“We’ll blow you out the f****** water.”
As the man gets out of the taxi, he can he heard adding: “F*** off. F****** Muslim c***.”