Fear of the veiled woman in the supermarket

By: GERRY LOUGHRAN

A woman of my acquaintance was shopping in a crowded supermarket last week when she was approached by a person wearing a black veil.

The veiled woman said, “Will you look after my suitcase while I take my little girl to the toilet?” My friend agreed, then froze in fear as the possible implications dawned.

In the event, all was well. The Muslim woman came back from the washroom; there was no bomb in the suitcase.

But this little incident demonstrates how the climate of fear caused by the terror attacks in Paris is beginning to affect us all.

Innocent British Muslims are taking to social media under the hashtag “Not in my name,” to declare their repudiation of Jihadist violence.

And Home Secretary Theresa May said the killings had “nothing to do with Islam,” apparently in reference to a particular interpretation of Koranic law.

TORN LOYALTIES

But suspicions remain. Right-wing politician Nigel Farage claimed that many Muslims are “conflicted in their loyalties.”

He said faith institutions should be required to declare the sources of all funding.

The newest fear concerns the ability of Islamic State to launch deadly cyber-attacks against computer systems, and the British government is set to double its funding to fight cybercrime to £1.9 billion.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said lives could be lost if hackers gained control of the nation’s electricity supply, air traffic control systems or hospitals. “From our banks to our cars, our military to our schools, whatever is online is a target,” he said. “The stakes could hardly be higher.”

Fundamentalists did not yet have that capability, he said, but IS had already exploited the Internet for “hideous propaganda purposes.”

A new National Cyber Centre is being planned to bring together the country’s leading experts.

Among the questions being asked about the new terror is, Why France? This country was hit only in January by an attack on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Some light may be cast by a study from the OECD economic think tank on how immigrant children regard their new schools.

The report said that France and Belgium were two countries where incomers were least likely to feel a “sense of belonging.”

The report added that many migrant families arriving in Europe were “hugely motivated to succeed.”

DEMENTIA

Lee Pearce from Sheffield began to worry about his mother when she forgot family birthdays and laughed if someone had an accident or lost their job.

She was 55 at the time and it was four years before Lee discovered the reasons for her inappropriate behaviour: she was slowly succumbing to dementia.

An increasingly warped sense of humour can be an early warning sign of impending frontotemporal dementia, according to a study by University College London.

Many friends and family members of 48 patients studied noticed a change in humour years before dementia was diagnosed.

Dr Camilla Clark said the patients developed a dark sense of humour, laughing at tragic events; they also tended to prefer slapstick humour to satire.

“These were marked changes,” she said, “completely inappropriate humour well beyond the realms of distasteful. For example, one man laughed when his wife scalded herself.”

Experts say more studies are now needed to understand how and when changes in humour can act as a red flag for impending dementia.

TWO HARD-TO BELIEVE, HARD-TO-READ CRIMES

Joshua Barnett, aged two, was playing in the garden of his home in Beverley, East Yorkshire, when he fell into a pond.

His mother, Claire, didn’t notice because she was checking Facebook on her phone.

Belatedly, she attempted to save the boy, but he died in hospital later that day.

Said the judge, “Your son died due to your neglectful conduct. You will have to live with that for the remainder of your life.”

He sent her to prison for five years for child cruelty.

Anthony Bruce, aged 19, had a pet puppy, an Old English Sheepdog named Benji.

But he was jealous of the attention that was given to the dog by his girlfriend.

So one day he forced the puppy’s head under water.

The dog collapsed from shock and died later that day.

Bruce, from Billingham, Teesside, now faces a prison term for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

He will be sentenced at the end of November.

JOKE

A couple are having dinner at a fancy restaurant.

Husband, “This food is delicious.”

Wife: “But honey, you always pray before you eat at home.”

Husband: “That’s at home, sweetheart. The chef here knows how to cook.”

Wife: “The two things I cook best are meat loaf and apple pie.”

Husband: “Which one is this?”

In our house we eat from three food groups — canned, frozen and takeaway.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION