Louise Burfitt-Dons is the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Nottingham North. She writes the Right Wing Feminist blog.
Few people could claim not to have been moved by the desperately sad fate of aid worker Alan Henning. The poignancy of this particular murder was probably his distinctively harmless profile. While we are not alone as a nation in our generosity to others, his reported compassion, composure and good humour, even during a long and difficult detention, were distinctly decent and British. It might be convenient for ISIS to demonise all `Westerners’ as decadent, wealthy and unfeeling, but the taxi driver from Manchester personified the very opposite. With his ruddy complexion and cheeky UK sense of fun, he didn’t fit the bill one little bit.
Instead, he reminded us of all that is good here, certainly not bad. The clips of him tossing parcels at his Muslim mates was the image of a tolerant and integrated society. His wife and baby were lovely. And, while the desert has a special kind of beauty, particularly at sunset, the image of friendly Alan, so loved but now so alone, kneeling in garish orange against a bleak featureless landscape made the Sherwood Forest backdrop of the UK seem all the more special.
But his legacy may well be something far more significant. The fact that because of his seeming innocence, a hundred leading Muslim figures rose up in support of release could turn the tables on his murderers.
Even the intervention of the radical preacher Abu Qatada made no difference to them. In fact, if anything, it ratcheted up their activity. They murdered him all the same. Having done so, they pointedly released the video shortly after sunset in the UK, the moment that marked the start of Eid al-Adha. In doing this they demonstrated that even the most outspoken preachers of extremist Islam are held in contempt by them. No wonder then that his murder met with such outrage.
Hopefully, the result of this will lead to fewer British Muslims rushing off to join the likes of so-called ‘Jihadi John’. If this is the case, Alan Henning will have done much more than deliver food parcels and medicine. He may well have saved many more lives.
From what I understand of the man from reading about him, unable to avoid his fate, that is probably what he would have wished for.