What it’s like to be a post 9/11 Muslim traveller

Skift CEO Rafat Ali reflects on what it’s like to be a post 9/11 Muslim traveller.

What it’s like to be a post 9/11 Muslim traveller

Most of us have been guilty of a suspicious sideways glance at the Muslim on the train or at the game. And they don’t even have to be obviously Muslim. These days, anyone with a beard and a Middle Eastern complexion is fair game for societal paranoia.

I’m as free-thinking and accepting as anyone, but the events of 9/11 left a mental scar that will probably never heal. I wasn’t there, but I have (thank the stars not ‘had’) friends who were there. It was a once bitten moment that still rattles around in the heads of many as they board a plane or look up at a tall building.

Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can safely say they’re free from all prejudice and fear. Although I say “bollocks”.

I digress, but you see how easy it is to get caught up in the tide of speculation and rumination over something that never did, and probably never will, happen to you.

So, are you afraid of flying? If so, why? Is it because you don’t trust planes or don’t trust everyone on them?

Skift CEO Rafat Ali is a passionate tourism advocate and each week I read about his promotion and love of all things travel.

Recently, he penned an essay about what it’s like to be a Muslim traveller post 9/11. His essay – an enlightening read that puts you in the shoes of a man who has experienced the indignity of being treated as the very worst person on the plane – even though he has never done anything to deserve it. He is not alone. Let’s face it.

“The demons in my head are real. They are real because they have been created over more than a decade and a half, bit by bit, indignity by indignity, layers upon layers of wounds big and small that have now calcified into my over-anxious brain,” he writes.

“I’m not afraid of flying … I’m not afraid of the risk of it. I’m afraid I end up somewhere I don’t want to go. Afraid of being stuck in a place with people who look at me differently. I’m afraid of the what-ifs. What if something wrong happens and they don’t believe me…?

“I am this guy. I fit every cliché; I am the abstract villain of your imagined anxieties.

“Traveling while Muslim. Doesn’t matter if you are practising or not. Or you wear visible signs of being Muslim. There are dozens and dozens of permutations of typecasting us, and they all play out every day. Most of all, they settle down in our brains and play havoc while we travel.”

Everyone has an opinion about religion. And while anyone who does ‘believe’ may pray to their god for safekeeping, it may be worth remembering that if that god does exist, you could be praying to the same one as the man praying next to you.

Read the full essay at www.skift.com

Have you been guilty of this type of treatment of Muslims, or anyone who remotely fits that description, on a plane or somewhere else? Have you ever stopped to think how they feel?

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    28th Oct 2017
    10:27am
    There are good and bad in every society. The problem I have with good muslims complaining about how they are perceived is that THEY stand by and let their criminals attack society and even harbour them.
    Speak up. Dob your rats in. Report suspicious behaviour. Denounce your own criminals. And stop trying to divide the nation. Then you will be respected aND beco me a part of our multicultural nation. Until then expect what you get because you are experiencing cause and effect. Nothing more.
    Turned the nightly news on lately? Your cohort feature heavily. Don't shoot the messenger.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2017
    12:18pm
    Mick, there are good and bad in every society. The problem I have with good Christians complaining about how they are perceived is that THEY stand by and let their criminals attack society and even harbour them (the long standing Christianity tradition of clergy pedophilia and coverup, and brutally murderous Christianity during the Inquisition being just 2 of many, many examples over the centuries).
    Speak up. Dob your Christian rats in. Report suspicious Christian behaviour. Denounce your own criminals. And stop trying to divide the nation. Then you will be respected and become a part of our multicultural nation. Until then expect what you get because you are experiencing cause and effect. Nothing more.
    Turned the nightly news on lately? Your cohorts (pedophile Christian clergy) feature heavily. Don't shoot the messenger.
    pedro the swift
    28th Oct 2017
    11:19am
    I'm not surprised by the writer comments. Just note who are the ones using "terror" tactics against whom. I haven't heard on any non-muslims blowing themselves up in a holy war. Please name one country in the world where Islamic terrorists have not caused trouble. It seems to me that when they have a disagreement with the local gov. first thing they turn to is using deadly force , specially against mostly innocent civilians. They seem to have no concept of political persuasion.
    Is it any wonder that people look askance at muslim appearing people. Can they ever learn to settle their differences in a peaceful manner? I doubt it.
    They even can't settle differences between their own sects Sunni or Shia even resorting to
    car bombs etc.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2017
    12:44pm
    Pedro, your first paragraph discusses Muslim "terrorists".

    Then in your second paragraph you change the subject matter and discuss "Muslim appearing people" (people who "look" Muslim) and immediately attempt to taint these ordinary, everyday, peaceful, law abiding Muslims who LOOK like Muslims, with murderous violent acts.

    Nice "try". Big FAIL.
    Eddy
    29th Oct 2017
    12:06am
    My wife and I have a Muslim acquaintance who is fair skinned, blond haired and blue eyed, she and her son are refugees from Bosnia. I am of Celtic heritage, olive skin, brown eyed and black (or at least it was once) hair. When I first met my wife's parents her father thought I was Pakistani. Tell me Pedro, would you be concerned about her or me?
    Kathleen
    28th Oct 2017
    8:36pm
    Muslims are as varied as so called Christians and people saying they have no religion.
    Muslims teach our children, nurse us in hospital, drive our buses, etc.
    You cannot generalise about any group as it is not rational to do so.
    Extremists are psychopaths hiding behind a religion or idea and seek to influence vulnerable, disconnected people.
    The best way to deal with this fear is understanding. When you know someone and see how they live their lives and communicate with them you find they are just people.
    Treat everyone well as it protects the whole community.


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