Hamad writes:
As a young western Muslim of middle-eastern extraction, how can I best reassure new acquaintances and colleagues in these difficult times that I am not a potential suicide bomber, or likely to start ranting about the Western Zionist Satan?

How odd. Personally that would be exactly the sort of image I would aspire to. Whenever I am forced to work I take great care to make my colleagues feel that I could explode at any moment.

However. If this is a problem, I suppose the quickest way would be to cultivate an entirely different image also associated with your background, and to me the answer is obvious: start dressing up as Sinbad. Everybody loves Sinbad. Wear a pair of baggy pants and a shirt open to your navel and a gold ear-ring. (Add a rakish black beard, if you can manage it, or you may be mistaken for a member of Duran Duran.) Brandish a toy cutlass, and start going round asking people if they want to come and look for treasure with you or help kill an evil wizard. Say wise and poetic things like 'Power without wisdom is like an eagle without feathers,' 'He who fears the unknown will be startled by his own backside', 'Trust in your courage, but don't poke an angry camel in the bollocks,' etc. When you're chatting up birds, give extravagant and courtly compliments such as 'Your beauty smites me from eye to thigh', 'You gladden my heart like an oasis in the desert', and 'I couldn't love you more if you had ten tits.'

Stand around heroically with your legs apart and your hands on your hips whenever you can. Laugh mightily and punch people on the shoulder. Play at sailors in your office; ride around on the tea-trolley as though it's a ship and whenever you reach a desk cry 'Land ahoy - this must be the fabled island of Deriobar, treasure store of Alexander the Great.' Be full of merry tricks; if someone comes round collecting subscriptions for a leaving present for somebody, pick their pockets and give their own money back to them. If they notice, kick them in the arse and call them a monkey-faced rascal and laugh mightily. When you're bidding for, say, a CD rack on eBay, start a rumour that it's haunted to drive the price down. When you need to see your boss and he's in a meeting, climb in through the window and leap on to the table with a cry of 'Ha-haa! High walls and bought guards cannot protect a coward's heart from the steel of a true man.' Stab a few of his flunkeys with the cutlass and carry off his secretary.

And so on.

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