Conditioned by the media?

What has happened to me, a self professed upper middle class citizen, attended a grammar school, passed my A-levels and attended university… Has the media influenced me so much so that I was actually scared when on a train journey I was one of three people in a train carriage? I genuinely, for a few irrational minutes, thought what if the young gentleman sat opposite me is a suicide bomber. His crime - being of Asian decent and wearing a skull cap. As he sat, I considered my end, I actually believed for a brief period I was going to die. I have regularly travelled through Northern Ireland; never did I feel a fear like I felt on this train journey in the North of England.

Throughout my schooling I was introduced to other cultures, now I can greet and profane in Arabic, greet in Chinese and say a few other select sentences in varying languages. Now, this in no way makes me a great linguist and any Joe in the street good easily learn what I can repeat, however in the corridors at school and the classrooms being able to exchange a few words in the language my friends spoke fluently seemed to be greatly appreciated by them. Knowing a little about their culture gained me an invite to a celebratory feast at the end of Ramadan, I’m privileged to say I was one of three none Muslims and the only individual of a none Asian decent, possibly as they all knew it would be hilarious to watch me guzzle gallons of water while they only had sips – the takeaways really don’t prepare you for the real infusion of spices and flavours.

So now I ask myself how, how was I scared? The individual that induced this fear in me was no different from me, yet I was genuinely scared for my life for a brief period. He could have been anyone of my friends from a few years ago; none of them would ever take a life. In my humble opinion Islam is an amazing religion, deeply intriguing and genuinely warm – even for none believers such as myself.

I am deeply ashamed of the train journey in question and the prejudice I discovered within myself. What has encouraged this prejudice and fear, the state of the world? How Islam and its followers are portrayed? I’m not sure where the blame lies but I hope that I never again judge another human being like I did.

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