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"Dear Lord,
May we always be mindful of your teaching: Love God & love your neighbour."
Aloysious Mowe SJ has not set their biography yet

Ben Affleck as a role model

There is a scene in Mira Nair's film adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid's 2007 novel, where its protagonist, Changez Khan, returns with a colleague to New York from a business trip abroad immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. At customs, Changez, a Pakistani national who graduated from Princeton University and is now working for a prominent Wall Street firm, is stopped by airport security and subjected to a strip-search, despite the protests of his white American colleague. This is the first in a series of humiliations and false arrests for Changez in the wake of 9/11, and this believer in the American Dream is transformed from being a poster-boy for Ivy League education and global capitalism into a resentful scapegoat for American fears about Muslims and terrorism.

These last few weeks I have been wondering what it must feel like to be a Muslim, or even be vaguely "Middle Eastern" in appearance, in Australia. At the more risible end of the spectrum, calls for the banning of the burqa, either because certain politicians claim to find it "confronting", or because it is seen as a possible disguise for women (or men - for who would know?) intent on terrorist acts in Parliament House, dominated the headlines and editorial pages for several days.

What has been of more serious concern to me has been the way that social media has given a platform to people wishing to air, and, in doing so, spread their paranoia and fear about Muslims in the wake of the counter-terrorism raids in Sydney. A random selection of Twitter feeds, for example, yielded tweets ranging from the acerbically cynical ("So the peaceful Muslims were planning to behead a few Australians on Australian streets") to the violence-inciting ("Eradicate them! It's only a matter of time before these radical Muslims will behead an Australian!"

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