2016 05 04 Signs 001.JPG

Yesterday – around half past four in the afternoon – sitting on the bus. Young man gets on – it’s the stop nearest the main mosque, he’s dressed in a white robe and wearing a highly decorated cap. Suddenly he starts speaking loudly (not shouting) – “Allahu akbar!” and continues for several minutes.

What goes through your mind at that moment? Well, the question “What’s going to happen next?” crossed my mind, as did the thought that it might be a good idea to get off the bus.

What actually happened was that a passenger of Asian appearance looked very discomforted, everyone else kept quite and pretended that everything was ok and eventually the bus driver told him to “pack it in”.

Whilst I never felt in any serious danger – I know the man in question by sight and had a long conversation with him on Boxing Day – my guess is that other passengers also recognised him and believed him to be harmless. Even so, I was disturbed for most of the rest of the day.

It could have been very different – it could have been someone different – someone could have taken the law into their own hands and attacked him – people could have panicked, insisted on stopping the bus, getting off and phoning the police. A harmless man could have been arrested or terrified or worse. Anything could have happened – it didn’t – but it could.

Image – this was taken earlier in the year the same bus route