Our plane was descending slowly. From the window, we could see overlay yellow lights like sparkling stars in the dark night. Meanwhile, the pilot instructed all passengers to fasten their seatbelts and move their seats into an upright position. Our hearts beat faster and faster. We could not wait to begin our short trip to a country to which we had long been looking forward: Morocco.
She wasn't shown to be a zealot constantly praying or sharing words of wisdom with her fellow inmates. She read books not exclusively about Islam and even participated in a money-making scheme some of the other African-American inmates organised. She. Is. Normal. And I can't tell you how awesome it is to see a 'normal' Muslim on TV.
Despite being born and raised in England, I no longer identify as British. It feels unsettling to say so, and I should add that I still hold a UK passport and have a deep affection for my country of origin. However, having having spent almost a third of my life living in France and Belgium, and learned a second language, I now see myself as European.
I was walking with my children on the heath surrounding Lyme Park, the stately home famous as the backdrop for Colin Firth's wet T-shirt moment, in Pride and Prejudice. It was a breezy morning and my teenage daughters, pasty faced, baggy eyed (from our early start) were in a sulky mood, hands shoved deep into hoody pockets.
Paris, Tunisia, Paris again, Egypt, San Bernardino, Leytonstone - with so many atrocities being committed in its name Islam is struggling for legitimacy. Usurped by misguided ideologues for their own twisted ends one of the world's great monotheistic religions is now seen by many as a touchstone for intolerance, discrimination and prejudice...