Cab driver who called Rep. Ilhan Omar 'filthy' and 'ISIS' is punished

Rep. Omar, the first Somali-American legislator in the country, was harassed while coming back from the White House.
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The taxi driver who called Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar – the first Somali-American legislator in the country – “filthy” and “ISIS” will lose his license and take sensitivity training.

Omar said the Washington D.C. cabbie, Uka O. Onuma, confronted her with the "hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist" comments after she got into his vehicle last December. He also threatened to take off her hijab – a type of headscarf commonly worn by Muslim women.

Omar had just come from an event at the White House and was being driven to her hotel.

Omar reported the driver to the Department for For-Hire Vehicles and the Human Rights Commission in D.C. She opted not to go to police though, saying "criminalizing hate is not a solution and will only strengthen individual malice.”

And a judge has now sided with Omar.

The punishment for the taxi driver

Onuma was found guilty of discrimination and offensive language by District Court Judge Claudia Crichlow of the District of Columbia Office of Administrative Hearings, Omar's office announced Thursday.

He'll lose his cab license for 45 days, and pay a $1,000 fine. He'll also go to anger management and cultural sensitivity classes.

Omar said she believes in "restorative justice," so is happy the ruling includes cultural sensitivity training.

"Bigotry is a product of ignorance and by educating people, we can move toward respect and understanding," she said in a statement.

She also said she hopes sharing this experience will help prevent similar incidents from happening to others.

The perception of Muslims in America

Hate crimes targeting Muslims have been on the rise in the U.S., and in the state. Minnesota has experienced a slight uptick in anti-Muslim incidents, even though hate crimes have been trending downwards in the past few years.

Pew Research in January asked Americans to rate how warmly they felt about religious groups on a scale of 1-100 (1 being cold, 100 being hot). Muslims had a median score of 48 – the lowest out of every religious group. It was up from 2014 however.

Younger people tend to feel more warmly toward the group than older people. Here are the 2017 results:

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