Rethink Rebuild Society participated in a tribute event for Alan Henning on 12 October 2014 at the British Muslim Heritage Centre and offered its condolences to friends and family of Alan Henning. This message was delivered to the audience by Rethink Rebuild's Advocacy and Policy Coordinator Yasmine Nahlawi.
Assalamu Alaikum, peace be upon you all
It is with great sorrow that we hold this event to remember the life and legacy of Alan Henning. I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to Alan’s family and friends who have lost a dear husband, a loving father, a close brother and a generous friend. I am so very sorry for your loss.
It also grieves me that Alan met this fate in my beloved Syria. I grieve that Syria is now associated with conflict and death and is becoming a country where people are losing their loved ones.
How I wish that Alan could have had a pre-conflict Syrian experience. I wish that he could have experienced Syria's breathtaking scenery and the kindness and generosity of its people. I wish that he could have strolled through the streets of bustling towns, cities, and villages and seen how people would have argued over who would get to invite him over for dinner, or how taxi drivers would have refused to take their fares from him as a gesture of welcome for him as a guest in the country. I am deeply saddened that Alan met a different fate in Syria at the hands of a brutal group.
With Alan's death, we all recognise that we have a heavy responsibility. We need to make sure that Alan's values and his spirit live on.
Alan dedicated his life to humanitarianism and to helping those whom many had turned a blind eye towards. He left the comforts of his home to provide comfort for people without a home. He left his local community in peace to help people under conflict. He travelled to an entirely different continent to help people who spoke a different language from him, people who held different backgrounds than him, essentially people who's cries he could not ignore. That, my friends, is humanity at its finest.
So while some may now shy away from humanitarian aid work abroad, please remember Alan and the values that inspired him and should inspire all of us. Alan gave his life in service to those who are vulnerable, do not let this be in vain. Please do not forget the Syrian people who:
Every 15 minutes, a civilian is killed, with over 200,000 people dead
Every day, 8 children are killed. 1 in 3 Syrian children have been hit, kicked, or shot at
Every day, 4 people die under torture at the hands of the regime
Every day almost 3,000 people flee Syria from the violence leading to over 3 million refugees (over half of whom are children under the age of 18)
Alan's death, and the death of Dr. Abbas Khan before him at the hands of the Syrian regime, paint a very bleak reality. The people's pursuit of freedom and dignity has been lost in the midst of all this violence.
We are tired. We want this conflict to end. We don't want any more Alan Henning's. And we need help. The international community needs to take more serious action to address the root cause of violence in Syria, namely the Assad regime, which created the conditions that led to the emergence of more violence in Syria, as we have seen with Alan's death.
We don't want to grieve for any more British civilians losing their lives in this conflict. We don't want to grieve for anymore Syrian civilians losing their lives in this conflict. The violence has to stop. And we hope, we pray that we will not have to gather again to grieve for the loss of another so loved.