4.7.07

Free at last

Oh happy day. After 114 days in captivity, Alan Johnston has been freed, safe and seemingly well.

What made Alan's time as a hostage so perverse and unjust was that he had spent three years in Gaza putting the case of the Palestinian people, as much as any objective journalist can, telling stories that may otherwise be untold to a Western audience.

Whatever the Army of Islam's motive for this deplorable act, it was only ever going to work against the Palestinian cause. Yet that should not prevent them from being congratulated for letting the episode reach its only desirable conclusion.

The bile and invective I instinctively prepared at the time of the bogus announcement of Alan's death can thankfully remain unpublished. I'm glad I held my tongue at that time, in spite of a great anger. Whatever one's view of the desperate situation in the Middle East, one can't deny that progress will not be made as long as so many bitter words are spoken.

Hopefully Alan will now get time to readjust to life outside his Gaza cell and to spend time with his family, who must have had the worst four months imaginable. The mood among colleagues also seems to have instantly lightened, people relieved to have truly good news to report for once.

And then when he finally gets back to work, hopefully in some nice, quiet posting - Baghdad, perhaps, or maybe Beirut? - mine will be one of many pockets only too happy to shed a few pounds to buy him a drink.

1 comment:

Jorj said...

Imagine being kidnapped and coming out to discover Sven in charge at Eastlands, with £50million to spend. Poor fella must be waiting for the other shoe to drop.