I thought something might be fishy when I saw 'Get off my bus, I need to pray' in the Sun last week. Having pictures or even video of a Muslim bus driver praying on his bus does not prove that the driver made his passengers get off so he could pray.
Via Islamophobia Watch, we can have a look at this article from the Slough and Windsor Observer, 'Bosses defend Muslim who stopped the 81 bus to pray', which explains:
London United Busways say they have carried out a full investigation after driver Arunas Raulynaitis rolled out his prayer mat to perform his daily prayers, facing Mecca on the number 81 bus in Langley.
Bosses have analysed evidence, including CCTV footage, and say the driver was actually on his 10-minute break when the incident took place at around 1.30pm on Thursday.
They added that the control room had in fact radioed Mr Raulynaitis to terminate the bus outside Langley Fire Station in London Road because it was running late due to road works. Passengers were asked to leave the vehicle while they waited for another bus to pick them up to complete their journey.
Steffan Evans, spokesman for London United Busways, said: “The bus was delayed and by the time it had reached Langley the next bus on the route had caught up.
“At this point the bus service controller decided that in order to maintain the frequency of the buses he would curtail the late bus, and therefore instructed the driver to transfer his passengers in order that they could continue their journey without any further delay.”
But a 21-year-old passenger – who was hoping to join the bus before it terminated – told the Observer: “People were fuming because they said the driver had asked them to leave so he could pray.
“Most people ended up waiting for 15 minutes and weren’t happy. I was late for work so I got a lift with my friend. But it was a hassle I didn’t need.”
So, the driver was told to stop the bus because it was behind schedule, and he decided to pray at that point because it was time for him to take his break. Not really worth reporting in a national newspaper. Unless you make dodgy assumptions about the guy's motives.
It's exactly this sort of story that led the passengers on the bus to believe that the driver had told them to get off so he could pray. If you're primed to think a particular group are arrogant and prone to demanding other people bend to their whims to accommodate their needs, you're far more likely to conclude that anything a member of that group does that you don't like has been done for that reason.
Think about it. It's already unlikely that a bus driver would stop a bus so he could pray, and it's even less likely that he would chuck everybody off his bus while he did it. How likely is it that he would be allowed to stop the bus and terminate the whole journey so he could do it? What would possibly give you the idea that he had that kind of power? Articles like this one in the Sun and the one quoted above - which still gives the impression he stopped the bus to pray in the headline.
The miniscule number of Political Correctness Gone Mad stories that turn out to have a grain of truth in them are almost all influenced by this sort of reporting too. A while ago, a children's book about pigs wasn't shortlisted for an award, in part because Muslims wouldn't like stories about pigs. Of course, that's rubbish, but why would anyone think Muslims would be offended by stories about piggy characters in the first place? Because of stories like this one. And why would anyone think that a bus driver terminating a journey because he's been told to and then praying because it's his break has actually thrown everyone off so he could pray? Because of stories like this one.
And on and on and on...