Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Apology as bus driver prays by Portsmouth road

Eastern Road, Portsmouth Image copyright Google
Image caption The bus stopped on Eastern Road in Portsmouth

A bus company has apologised after a school complained about a coach driver stopping to pray on a main road.

Parents of about 50 pupils from Meon Junior School told the Portsmouth News they were "furious" the Vision Travel bus had stopped on Eastern Road.

The pupils and staff were returning from a school trip to London when the Muslim driver began using a prayer mat on the roadside.

A spokesman for the Cosham-based firm said it was investigating.

Parents said the bus was left parked in a dangerous position as other vehicles had to swerve to avoid the parked bus as children and staff remained on board.

A spokesman for Vision Travel said it had issued an apology to the school and declined to comment on the driver's position with the company until it had concluded an investigation.

Portsmouth City Council said the school had received an apology after raising concerns with the bus company.

Salat is the obligatory Muslim prayer ritual, performed five times each day by Muslims but exact times can be flexible if an individual is not able to visit a mosque.

Arshad Sharif of the Muslim Council of Southampton said the incident was "unfortunate".

"Islam accommodates individuals who are travelling and there is a clear dispensation for them to combine prayers.

"On the face of it it seems that someone well-meaning may have been over-zealous but he should certainly not have threatened the safety of his passengers."

Portsmouth councillor Yahiya Chowdhry, who is a Muslim, said he believed the driver had misunderstood what was required of him.

He said: "His intentions are good but he did not need to put the coach in that position - it is a risk to himself as well."

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