Alan Johnston, a journalist working with the BBC in Gaza, has been kidnapped on March 12 this year.
On that fateful day, Alan, the only foreign journalist based in the Gaza strip entered the city from Jerusalem. His business card was found later in his abandoned car and Palestinian police have later claimed that they saw four armed men near to his car at the time of the abduction.
Alan was born in Lindi, Tanzania on May 17, 1962 to Scottish parents and was educated at Dundee University where he graduated with an MA in English in politics. After joining the BBC in 1991, he has spent eight years in Tashkent and Kabul; in fact, Alan was one of the few foreign journalists working in the Afghan capital during the Taliban rule.
It is not clear though as to which group has kidnapped Alan, but it can be said with perfect certainty that Alan's abduction is not going to help the Palestinian cause, neither will it help fight the preconceived notions that some in the west have about the relationship between Islam and freedom of speech. Such a barbaric and ghastly act will surely give the Palestinian freedom movement a bad name, and is going to put the nature of their struggle into question.
It is indeed deplorable the way some thugs in the Muslim-dominated regions across the world kill and maim journalists and writers in the name of the sacred religion. Islam in the hands of these goons is nothing but a tool that they use so blatantly and so thoughtlessly to bring about their own agenda that has very little, if anything, to do with the religion itself. The barbaric, heinous and dastardly use of the holy religion has to be stopped and Alan Johnston must be immediately freed.
It is deplorable that in South Asia and on the Middle East, journalists, particularly belonging to the western media, have deliberately been targeted, and those who indulge themselves in such tasteless act of violence cannot be called a friend of the people. These rapscallions who are abusing Islam to further their petty interest must be brought to the book, abduction and killing of journalists of the free media cannot be justified by any means. This senseless profane use of Islam and people's freedom struggle has to be stopped.
So far the Palestinian government has done very little to free Alan from his unknown abductors. The Palestinians should keep this in mind that Alan's abduction is a big blow to the Palestinian cause, and President Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's government must act fast for the freedom of this journalist. The Palestinian society is going through a transitional period, it must now show political maturity to prove that it has come of age.
This article was first published in the Star Weekend Magazine on April 27, 2007