Ibrahim Mohammed Ismail told the Bristol Post that he believes his racial and religious identity lay behind the decision by National Express staff to force him off the London-bound coach.
Ismail told the paper: “Clearly the driver didn’t have an issue with my luggage when I got on the coach, because we had a conversation about it and he allowed me on despite having the bags that I had.
“I believe I was asked to leave because of the way I was dressed, and the fact I’ve got a beard. They asked me to leave because I was a Muslim. Is that not discrimination?
“I was angry, I feel I was discriminated again and treated differently to everyone else because of my religion.
“Everybody could see it was because I’m a Muslim. There were other black people on the bus, but the driver didn’t say anything to them.”
The local paper notes that Mr Ismail, a mature student at the Open University, boarded the coach with his personal possessions including a printer. Ismail maintains that he agreed an arrangement about storing his luggage but was later asked to leave the coach.
National Express maintains that the incident was about luggage restrictions and denies mistreating Mr Ismail.
Mr Ismail has been supported by other passengers on the coach who also allege that he was the victim of Islamophobia. Bristol university student Rebekah Makinde and Nick McDonald have both been quoted in subsequent news reports claiming National Express had mistreated Mr Ismail. They claim other passengers also boarded with excess luggage but that this didn’t seem to bother the coach company staff. They further allege that female passengers on the coach voiced concerns about Ismail making them “uncomfortable” and looking “shifty” leading to staff asking him to get off.