In a public Facebook post, Jiva Akbor, a young Muslim Briton who was traveling to Spain, describes how she befriended a woman who was too terrified to sit next to her after seeing her text the word “Allah.”
She was sharing a row with a mother and her 11-year-old son, until the woman abruptly left her seat. She returned soon after “literally shaking” with two air hostesses.
“At that moment she looked at me and said, “I saw you write a text message and you wrote Allah on it.” My heart stopped. And I thought Oh Ma Goddd.”
Incidents of Muslim passengers being asked to leave flights or change seats then flooded Jiva’s mind – but in the post she mentions that the flight attendants calmly told the other passenger, ‘you are free to leave the flight if you wish’.
The woman then sat back in her seat and Jiva explained that Allah meant “God” in Arabic and then discovered that her flight mate was a Roman Catholic. They spoke openly and she explained she was “just a regular Muslim girl travelling”.
“After about 15 minutes of conversation I could feel her calming down and starting to accept what I was telling her,” Jiva wrote in the post. “Before too long I could see remorse in her tone, I think she was shocked at her own reaction and the realisation of what she had thought of me was setting in.”
“In her own words she said ‘it’s so scary what the media can make us think’ and ‘I just panicked’.”
Jiva and her new friend, who she discovered was named Beverly, went on to discuss everything from their families, faiths, Brexit, the exchange rage, their parents and even Pokemon Go.
Apparently Beverley kept apologizing as she reflected more on what had just happened. Before departing the flight, the two hugged, exchanged numbers and said they would stay in touch. Beverley even left Jiva her favorite perfume bottle with a special star lid.
What a wonderful world it would be if more problems were discussed in such a manner.