When I was in the army a number of things happened to me.
On one occasion a breeze block was thrown at my car from a footbridge above the road I took to and from work.
On another my brakes were sabotaged and I nearly crashed in a tunnel.
On a third I returned to where I was then staying in London to be told by the person next door that some men had been to see me and they said to tell me they knew what I did for a living and now they knew where I lived.
Each of these was unpleasant and after the third incident I had to go and see Special Branch and change address.
All of the incidents had something in common. The people concerned were linked to the republican movement in Northern Ireland.
They didn’t know me as an individual but I was a soldier and so represented what they hated.
Statistically all of those involved would probably have described themselves as Catholic but they were in no way defined by their religion because their behaviour was the very opposite of a Christian tradition of love and understanding.
My experiences were nothing compared to the murder of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich (and my army service nothing like his). But just as my attackers ambitions did not represent the millions of decent Catholics the killers of Drummer Rigby do not represent ordinary decent Muslims.
Today the law of this country is quite clear that when murder is carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological cause it will be punished by a whole life sentence – the person will die in jail – and those moments of footage on a Woolwich street should be the last moments that the two men involved ever experience freedom.
We must be less shy about hunting out, punishing and sending packing those who abuse their positions to spread hatred.
But we must remember that no single act defines an entire community.
When white middle class Christian Anders Breivik murdered 69 people (mainly teenagers) on an island in Norway he did not act in my name.