‘Why I choose not to hate - despite my brother’s brutal murder by Daesh’

Mike Haines OBE, founder of Global Acts of Unity
Mike Haines OBE, founder of Global Acts of Unity
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In 2014, my brother was murdered by Daesh. I could have chosen to be consumed with hate, but I decided to use the experience to tackle and eradicate it for a greater good as hate only breeds hate.

I set up my charity, Global Acts of Unity, as an outcome of my family’s tragedy. I wanted to share my story and spread the message about the importance of unity, tolerance and understanding of others, and stand up against those who are against all that is wonderful in our diverse and multicultural society. Whilst these may seem like idyllic words for some, for me it’s these qualities that are the building blocks of a peaceful and cohesive community.

David Haines, pictured with his wife, Dragana, and daughter, Athea

David Haines, pictured with his wife, Dragana, and daughter, Athea

In the wake of National Hate Crime Awareness week everyone should recognise the importance of raising awareness of those who inflict hate on others and report attacks. Racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime in Scotland with 2,880 charges in 2018-19, 12 per cent less than in 2017-18. This, I think, is a positive sign that there is greater awareness of what constitutes a hateful act, and people are willing and confident enough to report hate crimes.

With this in mind, and as part of Global Acts of Unity, I have decided to tour the country speaking to young, vulnerable and impressionable minds in schools and community centres. I want to be able to show the younger generation that extremists and terrorists like those who killed my brother, have a sole aim, to spread hate, but if we fight back with compassion and understanding, they will not win. We need to be able to show our future generations that having a difference of opinion isn’t necessarily wrong but it’s how we channel, debate and shape it in a positive manner.

Every day we see media reports about acts of hate – both random and seemingly politicised – either Far Right or Islamist. They are one and the same, and aim to spread their hateful views of others. Recent Home Office Crime Statistics data has shown that hate crime due to religious beliefs has increased, which makes it more vital than ever that we spread the message that hate is not the answer, and in order to stamp it out, we must report these hate crimes.

To help and encourage everyone to stand up to hate, Global Acts of Unity has created the Young Ambassadors challenge that unifies people in peace and breaks the cycle of animosity. The challenge is simple. It asks young people to pledge acts of kindness to those from different backgrounds. These may be people they don’t usually socialise with or know very well. I have found that getting to know others who are different to us is the best way to break down barriers.

I can see the positive change in our young generation, and it is this experience which has made me dedicate myself to the work I am now involved in.

We must not let hate crime attack and divide us, but continue to work towards a peaceful society where different faiths and groups can live cohesively by taking tangible steps and not just through fluffy rhetorical soundbites.

Now is the time to individually reflect on our actions and for those who have experienced hatred to reflect on the importance of reporting these acts. Your voice will be heard.

Aside from our beliefs, cultures, and languages, we are all human. I think it is important that we all understand our responsibility to each other to report hate crime in any form, and by doing so we make a stand against division and discord.

My brother was killed while he was trying to help others. Let’s continue his work to show kindness and unity with others, so that his death was not in vain.