Standing up to extremism: Brother of aid worker murdered in Syria shares story with Redbridge Schools

Mike Haines talking to a class at a school early on in his Global Acts of Unity tour. Photo: Global

Mike Haines talking to a class at a school early on in his Global Acts of Unity tour. Photo: Global Acts of Unity - Credit: Archant

The brother of an aid worker brutally murdered in Syria by Daesh terrorists is sharing his story at schools across Redbridge in the hopes of tackling extremism.

On September 13 2014, Mike Haines received news that his older brother David had been murdered in a propaganda video by Daesh militants.

The group had held David hostage for 18 months prior to his killing, kidnapping him while he helped refugees in a Syrian camp near the Turkish border.

More than three years on, Mike is now sharing his painful story with pupils across country in his Global Acts of Unity tour, visiting Redbridge schools throughout the week commencing February 5.

“My family were devastated by his loss. Not a day has gone by that we do not miss him,” writes Mike in a blog post on his campaign website.

“Channeling that emotion has been very hard for us all, as you can imagine, but I cannot stress more the importance of directing that energy to do good.”

Mike founded the Global Acts of Unity campaign to champion the values of tolerance and togetherness in the face of divisive narratives propagated by both Islamist and far-right groups.

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The talks are expected to reach more than 1000 schools pupils between the ages of 14 and 18 at a seven schools across the borough.

He said: “I am looking forward to speaking to children in Redbridge, an area that is renowned for its rich diversity and well known to me as somewhere I have close friends among the local community.

He added: “The best way to build resilience against violent extremism is by empowering our young people to respond defiantly in the face of hatred.

“No matter who you are, where you’ve come from, or what you’ve been through, it is important for us all – in London and elsewhere – to reach out, in some small way to someone from a different background or community.

“Only through coming together, can we defeat extremism and hatred.”

David Haines was among several British nationals to be kidnapped and beheaded on film by Daesh, including journalist Steven Sotloff and volunteer aid worker Alan Henning.