Islamic group says guide dogs OK

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December 17, 2013 - 2:20pm
Mike Simmonds poses with his seeing-eye dog.  Photo from www.mikesimmonds.com
Mike Simmonds poses with his seeing-eye dog. Photo from www.mikesimmonds.com

An Islamic group in Saskatoon says Muslim cab drivers should offer rides to customers with guide dogs.

Mike Simmonds filed a human rights complaint last month after two drivers with Comfort Cabs sited religious concerns as the reason why they couldn’t offer his Seeing Eye dog a ride.

"If a person is blind and needs a dog, absolutely this person must be protected by the Islamic law," Dr. Ahmed Shoker said on behalf of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan.

"In my judgment, this individual who refused to give the ride, I think he just needed to be educated. But I think after education he has to be responsible."

Shoker said there are two components that contribute to the attitude many Muslims have towards dogs.

He said that people who came from Muslim majority countries were colonized by western powers, which used dogs to discipline people as part of its police force.

"There is a connotation here that the dog is a weapon of those with colonial powers."

Shoker said there is also the religious component, where Muslims believe a dog’s saliva is impure. If a dog licks anything in a home it must be vigorously washed before it can be touched again.

"Purity and impurity is something important to us, particularly for the prayers," Shoker said, adding it’s also important to understand religious priorities. "If you are going to help someone by violating a minor thing, then you have to do that."

Shoker said Muslims are allowed to use dogs if it’s for hunting, guarding or guiding.

Mediation between Simmonds and Comfort Cabs is set to resume on Wednesday.

awills@rawlco.com

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