Dogma: Blind Man’s Dog Barred From Restaurant as Offensive to Muslims

blind-restaurant-r_1206221fA major controversy is brewing in England over a a fashionable Indian restaurant that barred the seeing eye dog of Alun Elder-Brown, who is legally blind. The owners explained that Muslims consider dogs to be unclean and offensive. This is only the latest such case in England and the United States.

The Kirthon Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, told Elder-Brown, 51, to dump the dog or leave. He was there with his girlfriend and her five-year-old daughter — and his service dog Finn. Elder-Brown, 51, may now sue and he has good grounds. As in the United States, these animals are covered in disability protections. Indeed, Elder-Brown showed the owners a card from the Institute of Environmental Health Officers certifying he and his dog were allowed into any premises, but was still told to leave.

A number of these cases have popped up recently. In England, Muslim taxi drivers who refused to carry guide dogs in their cars were disciplined. In the United States, a disabled student left a school after his service dog was allegedly threatened by Muslim students.

These cases occur on the leading edge of pluralism where religious beliefs collide with the lifestyles of non-religious persons. Taxi drivers have been warned in the United States that they cannot refuse to carry people with bottles of alcohol at airports etc.

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10 thoughts on “Dogma: Blind Man’s Dog Barred From Restaurant as Offensive to Muslims”

  1. Anon
    we don’t need to steer away from one particular set of religious instructions with regard to the law, we need to steer away from all religious instruction when they run counter to common law.
    Common law is a changeable unifying factor in society. Religion is divisive; even within the same faith folk can’t agree on points of faith let alone bridging the great chasms between faiths.
    If their is a clash between faiths who’s faith is correct?
    In the end a blind person needs that dog to operate properly, if it was a pig then it would be exactly the same argument. To me an animal is an animal and pigs when kept properly are much cleaner than cattle and goats and are certainly pickier in their diet. Pigs also are infinitely more intelligent than most animals.
    As for the kosher bit, well that is different the restaurant has set itself up as a specialist restaurant. If the restaurant in the article had said that it was a halal moslem restaurant and listed at the door any restrictions then maybe you might have a point.
    Also this was an Indian Restaurant what’s the hindu take on this? Do you reckon they served beef curry?

  2. were pigs used as guides for disabilities, how would you handle a pig entering a Kosher restaurant?

  3. this doesn’t mean that I object to the law that allows guide-dogs into public places but there should also be a law to protect those who would like to adhere to the rules of their relion.

  4. the law was based on Christian standards. You cannot judge a Moslem belief with a Christian standard of “clean.” (in essence you are proving that Christians are dirtier than Moslems. which might be true in rhetorical standards…) Anyhow it’s totally subjective since religion is a completely subjective thing. There’s no right or wrong – it’s your level of respect for a person’s faith. The laws of the nation need to steer away from Eurocentric Christianity-based rules and need to respect the tenets of other religions too.

  5. The thing is, even though dogs are unclean in Islam, some Muslims take things way too far. Dogs aren’t supposed to be kept as pets, but seeing eye dogs and guard dogs are permitted. Because dogs are unclean, it might be bad form to have one in a room where people are eating, but there’s really no problem with that as long as the dog isn’t eating from dishes used by people.

    re the Muslim students threatening another students service dog: cruelty to animals is a big no-no in Islam.

  6. Palindrome,

    It’s not really the perfect question. There is a huge difference between a physical disability and a religious law. Would you let the restaurant ban Stephen Hawking from entering because his wheelchair might offend the Amish? A service dog is no different, it’s a tool that the blind man uses to help compensate for his lack of sight.

  7. MASkeptic, thats the perfect question. People who object to bologna slapping can avoid this restaurant and people who disagree with the Indian restaurant owner’s attitude can refuse to eat there also. But what if the bologna slapping was required by law?

  8. Consider: A family owned restaurant where, as you enter, an attendant slaps you across the face with a slice of bologna. If you refuse the slap you are refused service. It is a long standing tradition that has been going on for generations. A follower of Islam enters the establishment and declines to be touched with pork, yet demands service. Would that restaurant be discriminating against him if they stood by tradition and refused?

    I am interested in your interpretation of this scenario. Both legal and philosophical opinions are welcome of course.

  9. Mespo,

    That’s exactly correct.

    Every religion and many secular organizations have propositions that they take on faith and refuse to test. It is past time for human beings to keep on with this stupidity. In this case, one can start living with dogs and learn that while they are dirty, they are not “unclean”. One can learn that dogs help people every day, and that they will lay down their lives for their human friends. Dogma should not ever supersede the reality of dogs! WOOF!!!

  10. That’s what happens when we permit religious dogma to trump civil law. The ironically named “Pharmacists for Life” has policy of refusing to fill birth control Rx’s on purely religious grounds. You certainly can adhere to your religious views, but you have to answer in damages when you violate the law. Call it the cost of principle– or nonsense.

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