I have no Muslim friends, nore am I a particularly religious person, but after reading of attacks on Muslims I felt I had at least to pass on my sympathies and offer a few words which might help those in trouble.
About ten years ago I was to have been a witness in a court case against a group of people. I was subjected to abusive phone calls, vandalism of my house and even, at the end, a bomb under my car. The main thing I remember from that experience was the fear and isolation - I felt that everyone else tacitly approved of the opinions of my attackers, I think largely because nothing effective could be done to stop these actions. I seemed to be existing in a parallel world which contained only me and my persecutors. I didn't talk about it as I feared that anyone I spoke to would support my attackers who were animal rights activists.
I was so wrong, later I found out that those I thought were indifferent were actually outraged by what was happening to me, but because they didn't know me well they didn't think it their place to come forward and say so.
Anyone who has been the subject of such an attack must understand this: the people who were responsible are not acting on behalf of the rest of the population. When someone spits at you the tendency is to think that they are acting out what the rest of the world would like to do, but this is not the case, they are an aberration, not a representative sample. The strangers who seem to ignore you and take no notice of you as you go about your daily business would be horrified if they knew what was happening to you, and there are many more thousands of them than there are of the other sort. People ignore you not because they do not care, but because they do not hate. Sadly it seems that hatred is the only emotion that it is acceptable to display in public to strangers.
I only found this out by beginning to talk about it, not just to friends but to acquaintances such as the postman who saw me checking under my car. Do not keep such attacks a secret. If you tell outsiders about it you make these attacks part of their experience, and you will be astonished at how many will want to express their rejection of the attacker. I think I only encountered one, perhaps two people since my episode who were hostile.
If nothing else, this email will at least add to the total of the "friendly" pile and count against the "hostile" pile. I hope we are in the lead, I suspect we are not but remember that it's very easy to come forward with an expression of hate, it's very much more difficult to work out how to come forward with an expression of support so most of us just don't bother. But we support nonetheless.