Rabat – 14-year-old Dounia finished her school day and headed to a bus station to go home. The Moroccan girl was prevented from taking the bus in Amsterdam for being Moroccan.
Dounia was waiting for bus 38 in Amsterdam Noord, from Elzenhagen to Molenwijk, on November the 21st. The queue was long. The 14-year-old and an Egyptian schoolmate were waiting for their turn to enter the bus when its driver ordered her friend to wait outside.
“At first he told my daughter’s friend that she has to wait outside. When my daughter tried to enter the bus, he blocked her too,” Dounia’s mother, Aicha Tapijt told Morocco World News.
Dounia asked the driver the reason behind his request. “I would rather not have that kind of people on the bus,” he replied.
The Netherlands-born girl proceeded to inquire as to what he meant. “Moroccans,” he answered.
A Dutch passenger spoke against the driver’s discriminatory behavior and told him that she would get off the bus if the girls were not allowed in.
Relentlessly, he let the two girls in and drove the bus to its destination.
“My daughter didn’t have her phone with her. In the evening she told me about the incident.” Tapijt said.
Furious, the mother contacted the bus company, GVB, to report the driver. “They did not answer me. The manager does not want to contact me and I can’t find his phone number.”
Only when the story was reported by Dutch media did the GVB comment on the incident. “Nobody is allowed to be refused on board our vehicles because of their appearance,” the manager told the Amsterdam-based daily, Het Parool.
He continued, saying that the company does not possess camera footage of the incident. “Camera images are erased after about 24 hours. Unfortunately, the report of this incident came in too late.”
Tapijt reported the incident to the police, but they too couldn’t take action against the driver. “They told me that incident is not a crime and I can’t take legal action against the bus driver.”
The mother reached out to the GVB’s customer service to file a complaint against the driver. “We spoke to four bus drivers who were on duty around the time of the incident,” the customer service told her. However, according to the GVB, the drivers don’t match Dounia’s descriptions.
But for Tapijt “finding him is very easy, because my daughter checked in the bus when she entered it. He was a blue eyed blond man, how hard is it for a man in Amsterdam to meet those description?”
To this day, the mother continues reaching out to the authorities, hoping to identify the driver. “A man like him should be fired. The nature of his job requires him treat all passengers equally. How is my daughter any different?”
Article 1 of the Dutch constitution states that “all persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”
Tapijit sees that the Dutch Constitution seems only applicable to white Dutch. “The constitution seems to implicate that only white Dutch must be treated equally to each other. If you are an Arab, then that’s a different story.”
“I face racial discrimination almost on a daily basis and I don’t want my daughter to be subjected to the same discriminatory behavior.”
After being discriminated against, Dounia asked her mother whether there is “anything wrong with me.” “I told my daughter that she is like everyone else. I then decided to find the bus driver and make sure he is penalized for his actions,” Tapijit said.