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On June 14, Yusra Ahmed and her four friends attempted to board a bus from Manchester to Leeds. But they were denied entry by the bus driver. Ahmed thought it was because she and her friends looked “visibly Muslim.” So the 20-year-old took to Facebook to describe the “baffling” and “humiliating” ordeal.
In her post, Ahmed wrote that she and her friends “queued up as normal to have our tickets checked by the driver (Caroline)” on the National Express bus. But apparently, the driver was “quite rude” to her and her friends. “She analysed each of our tickets and coach cards very closely which is something we noticed she didn’t do to any of the other passengers,” Ahmed wrote.
Ahmed went on to say that the driver “scanned us up and down and aggressively asked if we had any *hot* food in our bags…to which we replied just cold lasagne and rice which was all tightly packed away and no smell.” The driver then reportedly proceeded to go on a rant about their “smelly curry food,” an obvious racial dig.
When Ahmed called out the driver for her blatant racism, she refused to let the four women on the bus. The driver allegedly said she’d “had this happen before” and was “sick and tired of people accusing” her “of racism.”
Then a security guard got involved and the women were forced to wait for another bus, which arrived four hours later. When they reached out to the National Express bus company, they received a disheartening response.
“No apology was made by National Express, we were told that an investigation would be launched and that we would hear from them the next day but 3 days later and we’ve heard nothing,” Ahmed wrote.
For its part, National Express has launched a defensive Twitter campaign via its customer care account.
National Express did not return the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
Update 11:21am CT, June 22: A National Express spokesman told the Daily Dot in an email: “We take reports of unacceptable behaviour very seriously [we] are investigating the issues raised by this serious complaint as a matter of priority.”
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.