The brother of murdered Tayside aid worker David Haines has shared his journey through crushing personal tragedy to the role of peace ambassador at an event with members of his home city church.
Mike Haines OBE revealed his transformative journey to Dundee West Church in an online presentation as part of his continuing efforts to tackle extremism and its increase during the pandemic.
The founder of Global Acts of Unity, Mr Haines made the Dundee visit as part of a nationwide tour in his effort to tackle extremism amidst concern over a dramatic rise in hate crimes during the pandemic.
His 44-year-old brother was working for an NGO assisting Syrian refugees when he was captured by Daesh terrorists.
In 2014, after 18 months of brutal captivity, his captors released shocking footage of David’s senseless murder.
In defiance of the terrorists’ aims, Mike is undertaking the tour to share his personal journey and spread a message of unity, tolerance and understanding.
His talks, and the powerful personal message through the Global Acts of Unity campaign aim to help give people the tools they need to tackle all forms of hatred and challenge extremism.
Mike said: “The devastating loss of my brother had a life-changing impact on my family. We continue to feel his loss every day.
“It has not been an easy path to take, to channel that pain into a powerful, positive force for good.
“But it has been the right one.”
He continued: “Talking to faith communities in my home city helps to ensure that people know how to stand up to hatred.
“By standing together, with acceptance and understanding, we will defeat those who seek to divide us,” he said.
Crown Office data issued last year showed a 24% increase in religiously aggravated hate charges reported on the previous 12 months.
The Scottish statistics also revealed a small rise in racial crimes reported.
Moving and inspirational
Gordon Sharp of Dundee West Church said: “Faith and Belief (Dundee & Tayside) were joined at their online open meeting by people from other groups across Scotland to hear from Mike Haines.
“His presentation was moving, challenging and inspirational.
“His powerful message is very relevant to our times and encouraged us all to listen to others of different faiths and cultures.
“It is the only way that we will move beyond ignorance, prejudice and violence to actually understand each other and find what we all have in common,” said Gordon.