I haven't written for a few days basically because I've been trying to make sense of recent world events for myself. I guess I have been numb or in shock and I've been finding it hard to work out what I actually think, outside of the media (or goverment sanctioned) slipstream.

Also, the terrorist hijacking and subsequent murders happened while my parents were still here so it was hard to find my own voice above their outcries.

My father had already commented during his visit that he perceived the veiled women in my neighbourhood as fanatics. He sees the veil as a sign of fanaticism, instead of as a 'cultural artefact', perhaps worn by recent immigrants or the wider population of British Muslims as a sign of respect for their culture and religion.

On some level I understand the fear that is invoked for him by the veil. I don't feel that way about the veil myself, perhaps because I know women who wear the veil and perhaps because I am aware of some of the arguments around choosing to wear one. I don't know.

But somewhere deep in my subconscious I feel fear when I see people, women usually, wearing huge crosses about their necks. Not when nuns wear crosses - they are religious people, with a kind of uniform - but general everyday people who wear very prominent crosses. I feel a shiver of fear when I see them. I expect or imagine the women who wear them to be very intolerant, maybe even hating people like me. It's irrational, I know but I do understand how just seeing a person wearing an article of clothing or a piece of jewellery can provoke fear in some people who may be particularly prone to fear unwittingly.

I also had a number of discussions with my father during the visit around fear and hatred. It's not just a 'Star Wars' trite proverb. Fear does lead to hatred.

My father could accept that he feared Muslims (and gave many 'rational' reasons for doing so) but he could not accept that therefore he hated them. I would argue that anyone who make you feel afraid, often, is someone you are bound to hate. On a very personal level, if you are abused by a person, you begin to fear them. If it continues, which it does, you build up a great deal of fear around that person and you hate them - especially once you're released from the actual abuse. I did. I hated and I challenge anyone reading this who has been in an abusive relationship to deny that they hated the perpetrator.

If that is the case for one human, one who is like us, someone we probably once loved or were told to love, how much more so for a nation or a people who don't look like us, who we are told don't think like us, who are protrayed in films and in fiction as the enemy?

So like the rest of 'western' media, when the Twin Towers and Pentagon terrorist activity occurred, my father blamed muslim extremists. And it vindicated his fear of the local veiled women.

In our sytems of law - Britain, Australia and the US - one is innocent until proved guilty. I'll wait for the evidence. Oklahoma proved a surprise, this may not. But we don't know anything yet.

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