A far right activist has been banned from ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft after launching into a vitriolic anti-Muslim tirade in the wake of the New York terrorist attack.
Laura Loomer, an internet personality, prompted anger for her response to the attack that killed eight people after a pickup truck crashed into a bike path in Manhattan on Tuesday.
The provocateur, who works for far right site The Rebel Media which has been nicknamed “Canadian Breitbart”, claimed passersby in hijabs enjoyed the attack and called for the creation of a “non-Islamic” ride-hailing app.
Uber confirmed Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant suspected of mowing a truck into cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path on Halloween, had been a driver for them.
Uber said Mr Saipov, who has said he was inspired by Islamic State and shot and injured by police at the scene, had passed the company’s background checks and had made more than 1,400 journeys during his work with the company. Uber also said it was in contact with the FBI regarding him.
New York Truck attack
”Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” Ms Loomer wrote on Twitter.
“I’m late to the NYPD press conference because I couldn’t find a non-Muslim cab or Uber Lyft driver for over 30 min!” she said.
She added: “The two women were smiling or smirking in hijabs as they walked past scene of terrorist attack. That is not appropriate. I stand by what I said”.
“Ms Loomer was banned for violating our Community Guidelines,” Uber spokesman Matt Kallman said to Reuters.
“We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We have reached out to law enforcement to provide our full assistance,” the company said in a previous statement.
Scott Coriell, a spokesman for Lyft, told The Independent Ms Loomer’s account had been deactivated.
Ms Loomer, who has over 100,000 Twitter followers, has hit out at the companies on Twitter for banning her. “Uber will literally hire an Islamic terrorist, but they will ban a conservative journalist for addressing legitimate safety concerns,” she said.
Last June, Ms Loomer disrupted a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar because the character of the assassinated Roman dictator resembled President Donald Trump and had a Slovenian-accented wife. Prior to being escorted off the stage by security, she shouted: “Stop the normalisation of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!”.
This is not the first time Uber has banned someone on the far right. In the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in the summer – which saw anti-fascist activists clash with neo-Nazis, KKK members and “alt-right” supporters – Uber banned Tim Gionet. The far-right activist, better known as Baked Alaska, was barred after a driver in Washington, DC booted him from her car for allegedly making racially-charged remarks.
Mr Saipov told investigators he decided to attack on Halloween because he knew that there would be a lot of people on the streets and that his plan was to kill people on the West Side Highway and then “proceed to the Brooklyn Bridge to strike pedestrians,” according to a complaint filed against him.