Leeds University students face racial prejudice from coach driver

Four Leeds University students have issued an official complaint to coach company National Express after they were prevented from embarking their coach by a driver on Sunday evening.

The students, Yusra Ahmed, Samera Hanif, Ayesha Ulhaq and Sharifah Syifak Alsri, were travelling from Manchester to Leeds on Sunday night, when the coach driver began interrogating the girls about food they were carrying.

Despite offering to dispose of the food, the driver went on to loudly warn against the girls taking ‘smelly curry food’ on to the coach, and made attempts to search their bags.

After the girls protested and claimed the driver’s behaviour to be racist, the accusation was denied and the girls were refused entrance to the coach.

A security guard at hand supported the coach driver’s complaints, and told the students to apologise.

Despite other passengers raising their concerns, the coach departed without the four girls, forcing them to get a later coach which arrived in Leeds at 2am, four hours later than they had initially planned to return.

The students spoke to National Express to issue a complaint immediately after the incident, and they offered to provide a taxi to transport the girls from the coach station to their homes on arrival.

After Yusra broadcast their experience on social media, National Express were inundated with complaints from the general public on Twitter, prompting the company to launch an investigation in to the incident.

Yusra Ahmed, a first year Middle Eastern Studies and Politics student, told The Gryphon, “The incident was an abhorrent example of the kind of casual racism and Islamophobia that minorities have to deal with on a regular basis. In this case the driver made an assumption based on our brownness and we suffered the consequences as a result.

“Moving forward I would like to see National Express issue a public apology to us. We would also like to see the driver and security guard being reprimanded for their actions towards us.

“However this wasn’t an isolated incident, I’ve heard before and I am hearing now that National Express has a history of allowing the marginalisation of black and other minorities as well as women, to go unchecked, and this must stop immediately.”

Despite The Gryphon’s attempts to contact National Express, the intercity coach company is yet to release a public statement regarding the issue.

Jessica Murray

Image credit: The Plymouth Daily

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