A man was thrown off a National Express coach after a passenger said they felt “uncomfortable” because he was a Muslim, the Bristol Post reports.
The man had boarded the service, which runs to London Victoria, at Bristol Coach Station at 10.30am on Thursday morning, but was promptly told to leave by a member of National Express staff after a woman onboard the coach said she would feel “uncomfortable” travelling with him.
Fellow passengers looked on in disbelief as the man left the coach with the member of National Express staff.
Passengers were told the man had been asked to leave because he had too much luggage, but University of Bristol student Rebekah Makinde said the complaints were clearly made because of the man’s religion.
“I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing”, the 21-year-old told the Bristol Post. “As soon as he got on the coach, the women at the front were just silent and staring at him. They were making their feelings very obvious.
“As soon as the man sat down, one of the women went to speak to the driver. Another member of staff then came on and asked the man to get off. He didn’t protest or anything, he just got off.
“What disgusted me the most was that someone actually thanked the woman after he left.”
Miss Makinde said she then asked the driver why the man had been asked to leave and she was told it was because he would not put the printer in the undercoach storage with the rest of the luggage.
“It’s ridiculous. Everyone had luggage with them on the coach, I had bags and my laptop on my seat next to me and nobody said anything about that. The coach wasn’t even that busy and there were plenty of free seats.
“It was only when the woman raised her concerns about the man saying she felt uncomfortable that he was asked to leave.
“I heard the entire exchange between the woman and the driver and I know luggage was not the reason he was asked to leave.”
She added: “I understand that drivers want their passengers to feel comfortable. But not if it stems from someone’s unfounded and Islamophobic beliefs and at the expense of another paying passenger. I am truly appalled.”
Nick McDonald, from Redland, was also travelling on the coach on the way to a work conference in London
He said: “I heard the group of women at the front of the coach say he looked ‘shifty’. She got off the coach to make a complaint and the next thing a man wearing a National Express vest got on and asked him to get off. If the man was carrying too many bags, why was he allowed to board the coach in the first place? It wasn’t until the woman said she felt uncomfortable that he was asked to leave.
National Express said the man was asked to leave the coach following a complaint about his “bulky luggage”.
A company spokesman said: “National Express staff responded to a number of complaints from customers regarding a fellow passenger’s bulky luggage and electrical equipment. In trying to resolve the issue quickly, as the service was running late, the customer agreed to catch the next available coach. When he was asked to store the luggage in the hold he refused and walked out of the coach station.”