He was not the enemy - he was helping us understand

Share this article
Sir Ridley Scott called teaching 'the most important of professions'

BLAISE TAPP: The lifelong influence of our classroom leaders

Have your say

I went inside the Jami Mosque in Southsea once.

It was by invitation and the culmination of a couple of stories about protests outside the mosque, plus a few about the Muslim school in Buckland that is still yet to open.

One of the things you try to be as a reporter is fair and unbiased.

That can be challenging, especially with such an emotive topic as race and religion, and especially when it includes Islam.

I was invited to the mosque to meet its leaders and to talk about a man from Portsmouth who went to Syria to fight in a Jihad for ISIS.

That man is now dead.

It is hard for me to understand what could motivate someone to leave their home and fight in a country thousands of miles away.

But the difference is that he was fighting for religion, not nationality, and that’s why he went.

That’s why ISIS changed its name – it’s no longer the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Its intentions are far wider, even going so far as to say it will raise the white flag of Allah in the White House.

It is this war, this jihad, that journalists in that region are trying to represent to the people watching on television and to people who buy newspapers.

They are doing the best they can to try to help us understand what is going on in the Middle East and, crucially, what the response is.

One of the people responsible for me becoming a reporter was Kate Adie, unflappable while reporting on the first Gulf War.

There was no social media then, no internet.

She and other reporters were our eyes, they were our ears, and without them we wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.

American journalist James Foley was the same.

His murderers deserve to be punished, and condemned by the rest of the Islamic community, especially in the West.

He was not warmongering, he was not the enemy.

He was just a reporter, doing a job for the rest of us.