British Muslim organisations have united in denouncing the murder of Alan Henning by ISIL extremists, as the UK mourns the aid volunteer who went to Syria to help war victims.
Prayers for Henning have been said in mosques throughout Britain at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.
The Federation of Muslim Organisations said the “barbaric” group had sunk “to the most abhorrent levels of inhumane behaviour”.
Its spokesman Suleman Nagdi was quoted by The Observer as saying “We have to dissociate from the two words Islamic and State… There is nothing Islamic about these individuals, nor is it a state.”
A joint statement by Muslims of the North of England, where Alan Henning came from, called him a “local and national hero” and his murder a “cowardly and criminal act of appalling brutality” by a group which was “an insult to the Islamic faith”. It said the killing marked the “beginning of the end” for ISIL.
Shaukat Warraich, the chief executive of Faith Associates and also editor of Imamsonline.com, was quoted as describing the aid volunteer’s killers as “barbarians”. In a blog on the website, Leeds Muslim Council denounced the murder as “cold and callous”, offering its condolences to Alan Henning’s friends and family.
The President of the Muslim Association of Britain, Omer El-Hamdoon, said many Muslims, imams and scholars, had appealed for the aid volunteer’s release – to no avail. Calling the killing “monstrous”, he added that “to be dealt with in such a way is really upsetting for people, especially on a day like today which is the day of Eid”.
Soon after the news broke the release of video showing Alan Henning’s killing, the Muslim Council of Britain released a statement calling the murder “a despicable act, offensive to Muslims”.
In Salford, the town near Manchester where Alan Henning worked as a taxi driver, friends and family said they were heartbroken.
The 47-year-old left behind a wife and two children to travel with Muslim friends to Syria where they drove informal aid convoys.
“He was a fantastic guy, a loving guy. A loving man that would go out of his way to help someone. He had a heart of gold,” said his brother-in-law, Colin Livesey.
ISIL are now threatening to kill American aid worker Peter Kassig.
The 26-year-old former US army serviceman, who converted to Islam in captivity, had founded a relief organisation to help Syrian people.
His parents issued a video appeal for his release.
“Our son is Abdul-Rahman, formerly known as Peter. He disappeared on October 1 of last year near Raqqa, Syria,” said the hostage’s father Ed Kassig.
“There is so much that is beyond our control,” the schoolteacher added. “We asked the government to change its actions, but like our son we have no more control over the US government than you have over the breaking of dawn”.
“We are so very proud of you and the work you have done to bring humanitarian aid to the Syrian people,” said Kassig’s mother Paula.
“Our hearts ache for you to be granted your freedom so we can hug you again and then set you free to continue the life you have chosen, the life of service to those in greatest need. We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go.”
The self-proclaimed Islamic State group has executed four Westerners since taking over large parts of Iraq and Syria.