To the families of James Foley & Steven Sotloff

An open letter from the Braden family:

We want you, the parents, families and friends of James Foley and Steven Sotloff to know how much we and many others world-wide feel for you.

After so many months of stressful waiting, of promises broken and hopes dashed, of appeals to Governments and to ISIS itself, to finally be told that your sons, friends, lovers had been murdered in cold blood - and that you could watch their final moments on YouTube - where is the human race today?

Our own son was killed by Islamic militants in Bali in 2002. Terrible for us. But at least we knew that he and his rugby team-mates died very quickly and eventually we were able to bury him and start to rebuild our lives... But how much worse was this pre-meditated, public, long drawn-out torture for James and Steven and for you? How calculated to cause you the utmost damage and to re-create hatred between sects and religions. 

At ENCOMPASS, The Daniel Braden Reconciliation Trust, we work closely with people from a wide range of religions and cultures, including many Muslims, Christians and Jews who are exceptional people, actively working against ideologies of violence and hatred. But we know that sadly, throughout history, religion has been used time and again as an excuse for ferociously inhuman acts.

And James and Steven and so many other well-meaning young men and women, journalists and aid-workers caught up in that. We need young journalists to report the truth from the front-line, from the refugee camps and the ghettoes. We need to see some truth and balance in the media that is so weighted generally in favour of the local news, the hype, the trivialisation, the drift towards celebrity and scandal.

You should hold your heads high and be extremely proud of what James and Steven stood for and died for. Try not to think of the manner of their death. Think of their courage, their tenacity, their humour and perhaps their cheek and lack of respect for the old-school ways. How would they like to be remembered? The good times when the family were arguing together about politics, music or sport or just hanging out with friends?

And then remember that however terrible this may seem and how hopeless it can feel for the human race, there is still a vast majority of good people in the world who care about their neighbours, who don't see their religion, gender, colour or culture as a barrier but as a rich pattern of diversity.

The thoughts of our family and of everyone working for ENCOMPASS are with you and we wish you the strength that you will surely need over the next months and years.

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