It’s a bomb! No… a shoe. No… a ciggie.

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Danger - smoking can lead to (alleged) terrorism

Good grief. the news is alarmist these days. There were reports of a Quatari diplomat trying to down an aeroplane using a shoe bomb during the early hours of this morning. After an hour or so the real story comes out – he was trying to have a crafty smoke in the toilets and – having immunity – won’t face any charges.

Apparently he was “tackled by air marshals” which obviously means he was a terrorist. I can see how this one panned out. Someone smelled the smoke, had a word with the stewardess and he was approached or warned. It’s likely he kicked up a fuss – perhaps refusing to put it out, or simply being arsey. There will have been an air marshal on board who will have seen the commotion and a passenger in some state of annoyance.

Said marshal will have announced who he was loudly enough for other passengers to know he was involved. He may have had to grapple with the passenger to calm him down.

So our scene is a recognised air marshal confronting a man. A coloured man. Perhaps even a coloured man wearing traditional Middle East dress (I’ve not heard what the diplomat was wearing). These being the paranoid days they are and this flight being within the US the obvious conclusion to jump to – the man is a Muslim and a terrorist.

I wonder how many of the “witnesses” who came off the plane told reporters they’d “seen” the man trying to set fire to his shoelaces?

Much as I hate smoking and smokers who assume the rules don’t apply to them it is a bit of a jump from “sly ciggie” to “shoe bomber”. I’m annoyed this guy’s been released without charge – I assume due to diplomatic immunity – when he has committed a crime. However, I also think it’s a disgrace that as soon as a person from an Arabic country causes a kerfuffle on an aeroplane, witnesses’ instinct is to label him a terrorist with such conviction it makes it into the news.

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