Over the last few days we have witnessed the horrific and disturbing images of the brutal murder of American photojournalist James Foley at the hands of the barbaric terrorist organisation known as the Islamic State.
James, like all warzone journalists, risked his life on a daily basis to bring us the personal stories of conflicts that might otherwise seem distant. What has brought this act of terror closer to home is that it was committed by a radicalised British citizen.
ISIL is a poisonous terrorist organisation whose methods are more brutal than those of al Qaeda.
more than 1.2 million people have already been displaced in Iraq and Syria and thousands have been killed. ISIL claims to be a mouthpiece for Islam, but these actions in no way represent our Muslim community in Britain or around the world.
Our faith community here in Swindon is diverse and strong; despicable acts like those we have seen in recent weeks will only strengthen our resolve to work to eradicate radicalism in all forms.
My first thoughts when I heard of these disgusting actions was to seek instant retribution, that we shouldn’t allow this to go unpunished.
However, as the Prime Minister rightly said on Wednesday, we cannot and will not react in a knee-jerk manner to this incident.
Colonel Tim Collins said before the outbreak of the war in Iraq that “this area is steeped in history” and we cannot just look at the here and now.
We need a long-term solution for peace in the area because otherwise ISIL will just be replaced by another extremist group in years to come.
We will continue to support the Iraqi government in the form of humanitarian aid and work with our allies to stop the advance of ISIL across both Iraq and Syria.
A growing economy that benefits all sections of society, a comprehensive education for all irrespective of gender and strong governments in Iraq and Syria that speak up for all citizens will help people turn against ISIL.
In the meantime it is imperative that we move quickly to punish any British citizen found to be linked to ISIL: revoking passports, putting them on trial and, if necessary, deporting them to ensure they face justice.
Intelligence agencies from across the world will work together to ensure that this British murderer is brought to justice as quickly as feasibly possible.
These acts do not speak for humanity. Our resolve must not waver in the face of such adversity.
We have worked so hard to achieve the diverse society we live in today and we must not let the acts of the radicalised minority, ruin all the hard work of the peaceful majority.