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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: If only I could explain where this violence comes from

A well-known atheist emails me to ask how a good, kind and intelligent woman like myself can be part of such a "disgusting" religion.

I thank him for his genuine concern and pity his inability to understand those elements of human nature - like love, tenderness and jealousy too - which cannot be precisely measured or validated by rationality alone. I can see how a hard-wired scientific mind is programmed to reject divine mysteries and inner faith which cannot be verified. But disgust? Such extreme denunciation?

Among western elites - artistic, political, scientific, media - I notice more expressions of abhorrence of Islam and its diverse adherents than ever before. And every time there is another radical Islamist attack or violent act, this odium grows and with it the idea that all Muslims - including the totally blameless - are the enemy within. In the last months, soldiers in Allah's mercenary army have been very active, and so the virus of suspicion spreads further.

A French Algerian scientist, 32, working with a highly qualified team at the CERN nuclear research project in Switzerland confesses that he had links with al-Qa'ida operatives. A British-trained Afghan policeman turns on-off duty British soldiers and killed five of them, escaping on a motorbike. Several US-educated Muslims - including women - have been arrested and are facing terrorism charges. Then in Fort Hood in Texas, the biggest military camp in the US, a military psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, born to Palestinian parents in the US and by all counts a proud American, sprays bullets into his comrades. Thirteen died - including a pregnant woman - and scores were injured.
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