Mike introduced himself and spoke of his brother David and the great childhood they had together with loving parents who were in the armed services and so they travelled around the world as their parents moved from place to place. He and his brother were close and they both joined the RAF as soon as they could. When they left the services Mike became a Mental Nurse but his brother found his vocation in helping people and was soon in danger zones helping refugees and was known as a caring person who was great at working out problems. In 2013 his brother was sent to Syria to help in the refugee crisis there.
On the 11 March 2013 he was travelling with another aid worker, Frederico, when they were ambushed and attacked and beaten and taken captive. News was sparse but fellow captors praised David as he kept everyone spirits up and organised prayer meetings. It was a few months more of worry before they had it confirmed that David and Frederico had been captured by ISIS/Daesh but were still alive. The captives were constantly on the move, being beaten and tortured with very little medical care. David kept everyone’s hopes up attracted the attention of the guards and even trying to negotiate with them which resulted in more beatings. Frederico was released but not David as the UK refuses to pay ransoms as this is a source of income for terrorists. For 18 months his family hoped for the best but expected the worst.
On the 2 September 2014 a US Hostage was killed by the terrorists on TV and David was in a line up behind the killing. His picture was shown around the world. On the 13 September 2019 it was David’s turn to be executed on TV and die despite the work he was trying to do to help people. Mike was in bed when the call came through at about 11pm and his whole family had gathered at his house and so he had to gather them together and tell them what had happened. He said it was the worst thing he ever had to do to tell his mother the news. David was a hero but he wasn’t perfect. Hate was his first reaction but then he remembered the saying that “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing”. From then on he thought only of Unity. He decided he had to fight the extremists and stop them bringing hate into our lives. ISIS was not Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion and tries to help and improve the world. As the Klu Klux Klan does not reflect Christianity so ISIS does not reflect Islam. Extremists want people to see only the differences and we must not let them win. Extremists will do anything to destroy our way of life. Scared people will do anything and
ISIS reflects the action of the Nazis.
We must talk with each other and break down the barriers between ourselves. An alloy metal is much stronger than a base metal e.g steel and iron. So we must make ourselves into a strong alloy. One of Mike’s best friends is Imam Shanawaz and they have developed a wonderful relationship. We have to stop the cycle of hatred and it is sad to see so much hate and intolerance in the UK. Mike asked why do I not hate? I hate the people who killed my brother. Why did they kill him, was it because he was a Christian, British? No! It was because he didn’t matter to them and was a nothing even though he was trying to help the refugees in Syria. ISIS have killed many Muslims more than any other Faith. What can we do? Extend the hand of friendship. UN Leader Khofi Anan said “Ignorance is the handmaid of ignorance”. Start something here today which can really make a difference. Mike is on the ISIS death list as they don’t like what he says as they know that he can destroy their hate. His mother died within a year of David’s death and his father who had been diagnosed with dementia got much worse within a few months, they too were killed by ISIS, but I couldn’t hate and point the finger at Islam the religion of peace. “Everyday”, Mike says,” I try to be a better man” that is what we all have to do.
Scottish Interfaith Week
There will be no meeting in December
We thank all our members and supporters for a successful Scottish Interfaith Week in November
Visit to Edinburgh Sikh Gurdwara
9 November 2019 2 – 4pm
Fife Interfaith Group’s first event of the 2019 Scottish Interfaith Week was a visit to the Gurdwara in Edinburgh. In fact it happened the day before the start of Interfaith Week but this was because the visit coincided with the 550th Celebration of the birth of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
On arrival at the Gurdwara a former church situated in Leith, there was a ceremonial washing of the steps attended by a large crowd of Sikhs obviously enjoying it all. After the ceremony was over and others had entered with bare feet on the wet steps on a cold day, the rest of us entered and were able to take our shoes off inside. To our surprise the floor was very warm and it appears that there is now underfloor heating so people do not get cold feet, real luxury! Unusually it was not just the women who had to cover their heads but square scarves were available for men to cover their hair as well demonstrating their well known belief in equality in treatment of gender.
The welcome was warm and friendly and the Langar Hall was full of Sikh families dressed in traditional clothing who were having a great family day out. Visitors were taken to an adjoining room and there we sat down and soon were given talks about Sikhism and how the Gurdwara is open to all Faiths and anyone who needs help. Sikhs are renown for their feeding of those in need and after the talks were over we were all treated to a delicious meal including some really tasty sweets.
After this we were free to explore the Gurdwara and made our way upstairs to the Diwan Hall which was a sparsely furnished room with an altar one end on which lay the Sikh’s Holy Book containing the teachings of their founder. A lady was there reciting verses from the book and evidently on any day of celebration there will be readings all day long from the scriptures. Although sparsely decorated the floor was covered by a plush red carpet and concealed lighting reflected subtle colours on the wall and the altar adorned very tastefully. There was a lovely quiet spirit in the room and was a stark contrast to all the noise and celebration taking place down stairs.
A really enjoyable visit to help understand the Sikh Community who have such high ideals to help and understand others