Monday 2 April 2007

For Alan Johnston

We are gathered

The subtlety of the way our secular world pervades all aspects of life could not have been more poignant than when the colleagues, friends and well-wishers of Alan Johnston - the BBC journalist captured in Gaza 3 weeks ago - gathered outside Bush House (Home of the BBC World Service) in London to demonstrate, protest, support and call for the release of their friend.

The head of BBC Journalism addressed the crowd highlighting other people who had joined in support to demand his release.

Then his entreated everyone to join in a minute of silence for Alan Johnston and his family.

A switch went off in me; I thought minutes of silence were for recognition, remembrance or memory of those who had crossed to the great beyond.

This is not to suggest that some other party amongst the clamour knows more about the welfare of Mr. Johnston than we all know, but I more expected either a moment of silent prayer or even having a priest leading people in some short devotion of supplication.

I do believe in the efficacy of prayer driven by faith, the significance of a moment of silence in seeking the release of a hostage does leave me a bit befuddled and definitely not convinced that this show would lead to much - a gesture it was, but it can be argued, it was quite empty.

However, I do add my voice to the call to release Mr. Johnston, unconditionally and forthwith - this man provides a perspective of the Palestinian situation that we rarely get to see or understand, the captors are doing their cause no good at all.

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