Just when ridesharing service Uber thought it was moving beyond the #DeleteUber PR disaster, the company is again facing questions over an anti-Muslim hate preacher who has been working as an Uber driver in Florida.
Christian fundamentalist pastor Terry Jones, whose former church made kids wear “Islam Is of the Devil” T-shirts to school, is somewhat of a malignant celebrity after he tried to organize an International Burn a Qur’an Day in 2010, The Washington Post reported. That stunt sparked global protests, and when Jones actually did burn a Qur’an the following year, riots around the world led to 20 deaths, including UN workers. In 2013, Sherriff's deputies in Polk County, FL arrested Jones as he drove a pickup truck filled with kerosene-soaked Qur’ans.
This week, an Uber rider alerted the Post that Jones has been working as a driver in Bradenton, Sarasota, and Tampa Bay, FL. He apparently wasn’t shy about sharing his anti-Islam message with his passengers, views that have landed him on hate group watch lists at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. He also admitted to carrying a gun while driving unwitting people around with a $2 million bounty on his head by terrorist groups including al Qaeda.
None of this was enough for Uber’s background check system—which apparently doesn’t include a simple Google search—to flag Jones as someone who probably shouldn’t be a driver. Even Jones was surprised that he had been hired.
“I don’t know how much research they do,” he told the Post.
The company responded to the Post on Saturday:
As Uber’s community guidelines make clear, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination. We expect drivers and riders to always treat each other with respect and nothing less. What’s been described here is totally unacceptable and has no place in our community. We’ve removed the driver’s access and are looking into this matter.
This isn’t the first time dubious drivers have slipped by Uber’s less-than-stellar background screening protocol. In 2014, a San Francisco Uber driver who assaulted a passenger was later discovered to have had a criminal background, including a recent parole violation. And last year, a couple en route to the LGBTQ pride festival in San Francisco was verbally attacked and kicked out of the car by a homophobic driver—while Uber was promoting its service as a way to get to the festival.