A little irony
is a great thing..
I was standing in line at a bank with my friend K the other day. We're in the centre of Belfast, it's a busy weekday and people are buzzing around doing their thing. There is the smell of worry and beaurocrat sweat in the air. Now, K is a gorgeous blonde german girl with chocolate brown eyes and a body a goddess would kill to have. I am the slightly tubby, bearded, balding six foot tall muslim guy with whom she's linking arms.
On the TV a news-show tells about the London bombings, and how the police are hunting down possible suspects for the bombings and taking them into custody. There are raids, and there are deportations and interrogations going on. It's less than 24 hours after that poor brazillian guy got shot after being 'mistaken' for a muslim dude, and there are six mugshots on the TV, and they all look like me. I'm wearing my blue jacket, and the weather in Belfast has stabbed me in the back again and it's gotten quite warm. This morning it was raining, and I've been out all day. I'm quite conscious of the fact everyone else is in t-shirts and shorts and I'm wearing what is essentially winter wear.
Then K turns to me, and in her honeyed voice asks me about the situation with the terrorists in London, and I can just feel the tension go up a notch in our vicinity and there are slight pauses as people tune into my response. Suddenly I'm no longer queuing for some pocket change, I'm on a podium defending my way of life.
Now at this point I really want to kiss K. Not just because she's gorgeous, she so is. Not because I fancy her. I am only human. No, I know my friend, she's high strung, and she'll storm out and we'll patch things up in a few days, and the people in the back will stop thinking of me and her as stereotypes and actually see us as human for a few precious moments. Heck a few might even be surprised!
A naughty voice in my brain points out that "Who knows, she might even enjoy it?"
But I know my friend, and it's because she is high strung, and I care about her that I can't do it, so I look deep into those wonderful eyes of hers and start to speak.
"Basically it's because they're idiots, K. They probably thought they were playing some part in a war to defend Islam but they didn't think it through... Look, Islam only uses limited military activity when there is a direct military threat. And even then the targets are always military. Those idiots who flew those planes into the twin towers and killed all those innocent people didn't know what they were doing, and it certainly wasn't islamic. The whole thing about 'Economic Targets' is a load of crock from a muslim point of view. Muslims fight economy with economy, politics with politics, and war with war. We match each level. In kind. That's the point about the terrorists - who are evil - versus the people that muslims support the 'jihadists'. A terrorist will slaughter innocent unarmed people going about their daily lives. I wouldn't, and neither would you."
I look around. People could care less. So I can breathe a sigh of relief. K's looking at me and mulling it over.
Sometime's in situations like this, I have to suppress the urge to shout "Allah Hu Akbar!!!" at the top of my lungs. I'm wondering how high the fat guy in the corner would jump before the security in this branch would pile on me, or get all London Tube on my troublesome ass.
Despite this, I raise my voice, just enough so that those people who went back to their own conversations a second ago can tune back in, and look up at the screen.
The newscaster is reporting some more dead soldiers in Iraq.
I blink and try not to think of families and coffins.
"The point is, I think it's okay to fight for Islam. But you have to fight fair, otherwise, you're not fighting as a muslim anymore."