Being an Arab with Arabian looks, after September 11 things have changed dramatically when Arabs or people with similar looks (Indians, Pakistanis, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranians...etc) go to the west side of the world (Europe and North America).
Some people just keep giving you 'that look' and I am not talking about racism here. I will give you an example.
In one of my flights from New York to Los Angeles (6 hrs flight) me and my friend were the only Arabs onboard a 767 wide body aircraft (around 200 passengers). Whenever I stood up to open the overhead compartment to grab something from my bag I would have that look from people. People would stop eating or reading or smiling and just keep looking at me till I am done and I am sure they are expecting me to take a bomb out or something like that! If any one else stood up and opened a compartment no one would even care!
Same exact looks were also found in a train from Paris to Amsterdam. The funny part is when we arrive people who gave me those looks would smile at me and some even would talk or ask questions...it is like they are thanking me for not killing them :)
Another time I was taking a helicopter tour in New York, and when we were onboard there were two young American ladies and they were kinda shocked to see me and my friend onboard, They literally were making prayers and looking at us! And again after we landed they were talking to us and even took pictures together!
Another example would be in restaurants specially fancy ones, malls or museums.
Another funny thing, my friend's name is
Osama and he has all funny kinds of treatment because of his name. People sometime can be so superficial and treat someone in a suspicious way just because his name.
For me it's funny but not always! Sometimes this bothers me a lot specially when you are the one being picked up from hundreds of people for a random check from a police officer and the way they deal with you sometimes is totally weird, they treat you like a potential threat while all you were doing is having some fun!
What's the best way to avoid this?