Spurred by the death of a Pakistani cab driver this month in an apparent
dispute over a fare, religious leaders today urged Chicagoans to end the
“culture of disrespect” against taxi drivers that they say results in abuse
and violence.

Meeting at the Downtown Islamic Center, an interfaith coalition said Haroon
Paryani’s death showed city officials must do more to protect and empower
taxi drivers, many of whom are immigrants.

Paryani was run over several times by his own taxi Feb. 4 in what police
said was a dispute over an $8 fare. Michael L. Jackson, a city health
official, was charged in the case. Jackson’s attorneys contend their client
acted in self-defense after a confrontation with Paryani.

The religious leaders, including representatives of groups that promote
labor rights, urged the city to compile and release detailed data about
violence against, and abusive treatment of, taxi drivers.

“It is sad that blood has to be spilled in this city in order for us to
recognize the value of these people that serve us everyday,” said Rev. Kazi
Joshua, a board member with the National Interfaith Committee for Workers

The Council of Islamic Organizations plans to organize English classes for
taxi drivers and workshops on conflict management for dealing with angry
and drunk customers, council Chairman Abdul Malik Mujahid said


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