The brother of an aid worker brutally murdered by ISIS terrorists is set to share his story with locals in Kirkcaldy tomorrow night (Wednesday) in a bid to defeat extremism.
Despite the tragic circumstances of his brother David’s death in September 2014, Mike Haines OBE is determined that anger and hate will not prevail, and he is bringing his positive message of peace and reconciliation to the town with a free talk on November 13.
Mike has been invited to deliver the eighth annual Interfaith Lecture by Fife Interfaith Group at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Winifred Crescent at 7.30pm.
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This isn’t his first visit to Kirkcaldy– he was at Kirkcaldy High earlier this year to share his story with pupils.
And he recently gave a presentation to pupils at Balwearie High School.
In 2014, footage was released of the execution of Mike’s brother, British aid worker David, from Perth.
He had been working for an non-governmental organisation, assisting Syrian refugees.
Following the atrocity, Mike set up his own charity called Global Acts of Unity with the aim of building a legacy for his brother and encouraging people to join together to unite against hate and terror.
He said: “One month after my brother was murdered, I was invited to a multi-faith event in Birmingham. I knew I had to do something against what the extremists were doing to the country but didn’t know what. At the event I was approached by the headteacher of a school and he invited me to speak to pupils.
“I thought I would maybe just shake a few hands and meet a couple of them. There were 1400 students waiting for me in the assembly hall!
“I had never publicly spoken before – ever. It really was terrifying!
“I had nothing prepared, I just spoke from the heart, and, afterwards, there were lots of students with questions. I realised that they were the people I wanted to speak to.
“My generation and older are boring, set in our ways, tired and not going to change.
“But if we can reach the youth – and it is young people extremists are aiming their narratives at – it can make a difference. This is how Global Acts of Unity started.”
Mike has travelled all over the UK and abroad and spoken to over 90,000 people. He gives presen tations to second year pupils and above, and it is this that he will be delivering in Kirkcaldy tomorrow night.
He explained: “I talk about what happened to my family to the point when he was kidnapped.
“The second part is all about the rejection of hatred, about trying to show what the acts of extremism and terrorism are about which is the spread of hate.
“I want to empower students to see that hatred is a choice. They don’t have to choose acts or words of hatred in their daily lives. It isn’t just about acts of extremism and terrorism.
“The response we have is quite wonderful. Every school,no matter what type it is, is the same. Showing family photos lets pupils see something of themselves in them – and you can feel the tension building to the point of his kidnap.
“Then there is horror and anger when we reach his murder. There is such emotion flowing in the room – we always have someone crying.
“In the second part you can see the understanding that hatred is a choice as well as the determination from the students not to act or speak in hatred and it is quite incredible.”
Mike will also host a Q&A after his presentation.
He added: “The youth are the targets of the extremists and they are trying to twist them for the wrong purposes. All I am trying to do is to empower our youth to see that hatred is a choice and to take a path away from it.
“It had always been my aim from when I first started that if we could help change one person away from hatred we will have won.
“But actually we have hundreds of letters from teachers, schools, police, parents and students themselves saying they have turned away from hatred and are doing positive things. It is really quite incredible and inspiring.”
To book a place at the talk search for “Interfaith lecture by Mike Haines” on www.eventbrite.co.uk
To find out more about the Global Acts of Unity campaign visit: https://mikehaines.globalactsofunity.com/