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Muslim cabbies upset about being forced to advertise strip clubs

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Muslim cab drivers in New York aren't too happy about having to display ads on their taxis that run counter to their religious beliefs, such as strip-club come-ons featuring women with the cold, dead look of commerce in their eyes. The problem is, according to Taxi and Limousine Commission rules, whoever owns the taxi medallion gets final cut, so to speak, on what advertising gets shown on the vehicle.

And with medallions costing $600,000 and up, many cabbies who own their vehicles still have to lease the medallions from owners who maintain that, since they're the ones ultimately responsible for costs and liabilities, they should have the last word on what subliminal messages are delivered to the brains of onlookers. And since jiggle joints have ready cash to pony up, well, that seems the logical route to go.

But the Muslim drivers who find these mobile spots humiliating are calling on the city to essentially grant them veto power over what goes on their roofs. Osman Chowdhury, a cabby who heads the Bangladesh Society in Queens and uses his car during off-hours, says:

"I see family and friends and I feel embarrassed. It's made a lot of Muslims uncomfortable. It's a free society, but we have no choice [about having the ads on their cars.]"

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 right around the corner, we have to remind ourselves that, while the wound is doubtless still raw, the heinous deeds of a handful of bad-apple terrorists should not alter our perceptions of good, hard-working people who happen to practice a different religion. TLC Commissioner David Yassky said on Thursday that he favors giving medallion-leasing drivers that veto power, but the TLC will finally vote on the issue in September. I'm curious what people think about this issue.