STM investigates driver over complaint she didn't stop for Muslim woman

The STM is investigating a complaint filed by a Muslim woman who said a bus driver failed to stop for her.

The woman, Zineb Benrochd, felt so strongly that the bus driver had seen her and chosen to ignore her that she got a friend to pick her up at the bus stop in Montreal North.

“I knew. She looked at me and she was like proud,” said Benrochd. “I had no doubt she didn’t stop for me because of the niqab.”

They then drove after the bus and confronted the driver, and recorded the incident on video.

In the video, the driver said she did not see Benrochd, while Benrochd insisted that they had made eye contact.

Benrochd then posted the video online and filed complaints with Montreal police hate crimes unit, the human rights commission and the STM.

She also said that the bus driver had made several Islamophobic posts on social media, including one from 2010 which read "I'm in a great mood today, I love everyone except stupid idiots who wear the hijab. I can't stand them."

Benrochd said she has been in contact with the driver who apparently acknowledged that she did post those messages but insisted she was not a bigot.

In a statement, the STM said Wednesday that employees must respect its code of ethics and that employees must be respectful in person and on social media.


Spike in complaints

The group Justice Femme, which helps victims of discrimination, said it has seen an increase in the number of hate-related incidents since the tabling of the CAQ's Bill 21.

It is calling this case another example of discrimination.

“She has to be suspended,” said Hanadi Saad, executive director of Justice Femme. “She has to pay for what she did.”

Since March, more than 40 women have reported increasingly aggressive behaviour against them.

Bill 21 has emboldened displays of intolerance, said Saad, who worries the social climate will only get worse if the bill passes.

“I just hope that the fact that I stand for my rights will make them understand that they cannot discriminate,” said Benrochd “I do not ask for anyone to love me, but you have to respect me because you are working.