By Chris Rivera
On December 7th, on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed French journalist and author Nicolas Hėnin; Hėnin was held hostage by Isis for ten months in Syria and was held by Mohammed Emwazi. The focus of their conversation included Hėnin’s thoughts on countries closing their borders to Syrian refugees.
Hėnin was released from captivity on April 18th, 2014 along with three other French journalists. He told Europe 1, which is his employer, that they had spent “six whole months in basements without seeing daylight, and for two-and-a-half months we were chained to each other … In a country at war it’s not always easy to get food, water, electricity … sometimes the fighting was close and we were moved very quickly in crazy and unpleasant conditions.”
He had tried to escape captivity, but unfortunately he was captured within 24 hours, as was mentioned in an article by the Guardian.
In the interview Amy Goodman asked Hėnin about how the West is handling the Syrian refugee crisis; his response is inspirational for person who was not only held hostage by Isis, but for someone whose country was attacked by terrorist that killed 130 people. Hėnin responds by saying, “welcoming refugees is not a terror threat to us, to our countries. It’s like a vaccine to protect us from terrorism, because the more interactions we have between societies, between communities, the less there will be tensions. I mean, the Islamic State believes in a global confrontation. What they want eventually is civil war in our countries, or at least large unrest, and in the Middle East, a large-scale war. This is what they look for. This is what they struggle for. So we have to kill their narrative and actually to welcome refugees, totally destroy their narrative. And if you kill their narrative, it’s even more efficient than if you drop some bombs and kill some of their fighters.”
The way we kill their narrative, according to Hėnin, is by showing refugees and Muslims that Isis propaganda is just, well, propaganda. Hėnin believes Western society has to show the Syrian refugees that the West is not as Islamophobic as Isis is saying it is. He wants to show that Western society is actually suitable for Muslims, and well anybody with different views and different religions.
Hėnin goes onto talk about how the caliphate that Isis is creating is not the dream land that Isis is saying it is. How could it be when there are “hundreds of thousands of Muslims fleeing this dream land of Syria. It’s like—it’s just like if you had loads of Jews fleeing Israel just a couple of years after the state of Israel is established. I mean, that’s a—it contradicts all of the speech the state is based on and contracts itself on. And not only that, so they leave this land of sham, that is dream land for ISIS, to immigrate to lands of unbelievers.”
The Syrian refugees are leaving a place that they are familiar with for a place that they possibly know little to nothing about, and they are being “welcomed with open arms by the Western societies, who—and by many people in Europe who say, ‘Well, you are our brothers, and we will protect you.”
Of course there are going to be those people who share Donald Trump’s view on banning all Muslims from entering, which Hėnin believes that this mindset only, “play[s] the game of ISIS,” because, “welcoming refugees is kind of a vaccine against terrorism.”
Hėnin also had a few words about religion to which he said, “religion seems to be always almost a vaccine against terrorism, because a good religious people will never become a terrorist.”
Towards the end of the interview Amy Goodman asked Hėnin “What would you say to young Europeans who want to join, who what to become jihadists?” To which he responds, “ISIS will recruit you, telling you jihad is cool, because, yes, it’s cool, if you have no life, no girlfriend, no job, no money, nothing in your home country, and ISIS promises you, what, adventure, engagement, a girl, a car, a weapon, power, money, whatever. So, they all play like jihad is cool. And my answer is: ISIS is a scam, because ISIS does not really fight Assad, does not protect the Muslims in Syria, but kills, to wide extent, a number of Muslims in Syria. ISIS is a disaster for the Syrian people. So, for those who want to join ISIS, I tell them, “I understand the reason for your rage, because, yes, there are many reasons actually to be unhappy about both your life in the West or both the situation in Syria and these civilians being massacred in huge numbers. But ISIS will just make you make this crisis bigger.”