I have this app; it plays the Muslim call to prayer. So as part of my interfaith outreach on my daily commute, I play the Muslim call to prayer from my phone’s speakers. I’ve always been able to find a seat on a hastily vacated carriage, which is strange. Unlike Jeremy Corbyn the star of the trending #traingate debacle I’ve never been forced to sit on the floor. But I digress; this article is about Muslims on a different type of transport causing terror high up in the skies.
A clear line down the aisle of your budget airline has been drawn between two warring parties: those who seek sun, sea and a full English breakfast and those who want sun, sea and shariah.
However instead of just dismissing the irrational fear non-Muslims have when confronted with an Arabic reading passenger on their flight to Benidorm, I want to offer practical suggestions so we can get back to the halcyon days when over priced travel was only divided by class; First, Business and the plebs in Economy.
1) When are you planning to return?
First, and this may sound obvious, ask Mohamed with the scary beard if he has a return flight. Because if he really is on a suicide mission to ruin your stag weekend in Las Vegas, why take on the expense of a return ticket? Despite what Deborah Orr thinks, the cash can be better utilised by Mohamed’s grieving partner to purchase a Burkini for a trip to the south of France so she can sit on its Muslim-friendly beaches.
Relax non-Muslims; you’ll still be able to shout English loudly and gesticulate wildly with your hands at brown and black folk when you arrive at your exotic destination. Plus the Muslim couple on your flight are probably not packing anything more sinister than seasoning or chilli sauce because they’ve opted for the all-inclusive at their holiday resort.
2) Do you have a common cause?
I get that for the sun, sea and full English breakfast contingent on their way to Spain, flying with a Muslim on a plane is akin to being forced on a bush tucker trial to eat an article by The Guardian on diversity. But Muslims are also on their way to Spain; they just call it Andalusia and they also hate diversity articles because it never actually translates into a job. So different but same, come together in common cause.
If two veiled women are speaking in a language that sounds alien and this frightens you more than being told you have end stage cancer, just picture them as Dave and Charles from IT who have hit the duty-free booze early and are now being the plane bores, jabbering incoherently and itching for a fight whilst telling everyone they love them.
3) Other options
Instead of panicking and alerting Theresa May of a terrorist threat, have you stopped to think maybe the Anjem Choudary lookalike in front of you is sweating profusely because after having his cavity searched for signs of ISIS he’s had to endure a line of questioning more arduous than two Aunties assessing your suitability for their niece. Just remember the lookalike knows he has to do it all over again for the return flight.
As Roosevelt said there is nothing to fear but fear itself; Muslims in the middle section of the plane are strapped with nothing more than hope that their ridiculously expensive holiday is Instagram ready just like you.
4) Spot the difference
If you’re going to be paranoid about Muslims on a plane on your way to party in Dubai, it helps if you know the difference between a Sikh guy and Osama Bin Laden. This is not a dig; no one wants to be that person in a viral article who mixed up a man eager to go heaven with a suitcase of explosives and a Sikh guy in a turban from the Punjab. It will make your protestations about Islam not being a race seem hollow. Take my advice, do your homework, maybe purchase Islam for Dummies like the terrorists do.
This doesn’t absolve Muslims from their duty to centre the panicked feeling of Michael from the Home Counties and look less Muslim
5) Integration, Integration, Integration
Muslims, can also do their bit – by hanging Olympic gold medals around your neck, bake cakes that would make Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry swoon, be the world’s most expensive footballer or the Mayor of London – oh and upon entering the plane, loudly proclaim your rejection of ISIS because Muslims seemingly never do that. Michael will appreciate this gesture.
If this doesn’t persuade you that the Muslim on your plane is not a disaster waiting to happen, then as the safety video says there are exits located at the front and rear do everyone a favour and see your way out.
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Raf is a vegetarian Muslim who does current affairs with jokes. Follow him on Twitter @1Rafz