THE brother of a humanitarian aid worker who was murdered by Islamic State militants has reached out to people of other faiths and said evil can be defeated by sharing with other communities.
David Haines, 44, from Perth, was working in Syrian refugee camps when he was kidnapped in March last year. Footage of the father-of-two’s murder was released on the internet in September.
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His brother Mike has vowed to carry on David’s humanitarian work and has been travelling around the UK to meet people with other beliefs.
His journey is featured on today’s Songs Of Praise television programme, and it shows Haines visiting the Bradford Central Mosque and extending the hand of friendship to worshippers attending prayers there.
Haines, joined on the BBC programme by the Bishop of Bradford the Right Reverend Toby Howarth, said: “David was always there for me and I was always there for him. Apart from being brothers we had a good friendship as well.
“David spent his life serving others and it’s this legacy that I want to continue.
“It’s important for my family and I that David isn’t remembered for his brutal murder but for the good works that he did. He went to places to help people, no matter faith, creed or background.”
Speaking about his interfaith conversations, Haines, who is a Christian, said: “We all need to have our own beliefs. I have talked to God many times, he has given me the strength for those times of blackness in your stomach and the hollow feeling of David’s death.
“He has given me the strength to see that for all the evil that’s been done there is an amazing amount of good in our nation.”
Before shaking hands with Zulfiqar Karim from the Bradford Council for Mosques, he added: “You can try and fight this evil by becoming friends by sharing our communities, by learning about each other, because that’s what they hope to destroy. So you have my hand in friendship.”
David was taken hostage in Syria while working for international relief agency Acted in March last year.
He had been helping refugees in a camp near the Turkish border when he was taken by Islamic State militants.
David served 12 years as an aircraft engineer with the RAF and later took up humanitarian work, assisting aid agencies in some of the world’s worst trouble spots.
He was in Libya during its civil war in 2011, working as head of mission for Handicap International, which helps disabled people in poverty and conflict zones around the world.
David had a teenage daughter from a previous marriage and a four-year-old daughter in Croatia with his widow Dragana Prodanovic Haines.
Speaking after his execution, Prime Minister David Cameron said the father-of-two was “murdered in the most callous and brutal way imaginable by an organisation which is the embodiment of evil.
He added: “David Haines was a British hero. The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of Isil sums up what this organisation stands for.”
News of David’s death came hours after his family issued a plea to his captors to contact them.
On the eve of his brother’s memorial service in October, Haines said his death had broken the family’s hearts but they had been “overwhelmed” by messages of support.
He said: “I am recording this message in the hope that people across Britain will listen to my family’s story and understand that the fight against terrorism and extremism isn’t something that happens to other people, it affects us all.
“How we react to this threat is also about all of us. Together we have the power to defeat the most hateful acts. Acts of unity from us all will in turn make us stronger, and those who wish to divide us weaker.”
Songs Of Praise is on BBC1 at 3.10pm today.
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