Heathrow’s Muslim taxi drivers forced to pray at bus stop

Covid restrictions meant London airport’s prayer rooms for drivers closed

Taxi drivers say they feel ‘degraded’ by Heathrow’s closure of its prayer room for taxi drivers. Tom Edwards / Twitter
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Taxi drivers working at London Heathrow say they feel “humiliated” having spent the past year praying at a bus stop in a car park because the airport closed its prayer rooms.

The facilities were shut due to Covid restrictions but in recent weeks complaints escalated over a perceived deterioration in cleanliness and safety.

“We’re not asking for them to roll the red carpet out for us,” private hire driver Zamir Dreni told the Britain-based Islam Channel.

“We’re asking for the bare basics – we feel degraded.”

Heathrow’s actions were condemned by the App Drivers and Couriers Union.

“People are praying in close proximity to moving traffic. It becomes a real risk for them,” said ADCU general secretary James Farrar.

“If you are a devout Muslim, you must pray and too often it is inside that car park.”

The trade union said drivers had reported a lack of soap and water in the toilets in recent weeks, a development Mr Farrar called “disgusting”.

He urged Heathrow to provide “safe, sanitary and dignified working conditions”, while on Twitter his union questioned how seriously the airport takes issues affecting ethnic minorities.

In response, Heathrow told The National it is "committed" to improving the facilities for drivers and maintained that prayer rooms would be reopened when it was safe to do so.

Yet Britain’s biggest airport said it was unable to provide alternative facilities in the car park for health and safety reasons.

It also said it expected those using existing spaces to keep them “in good condition”.