It’s been a month of terror, characterised by seemingly countless media reports around the world focused on death, violence and fear. But from out of the horror have come stories of heroism and inspiration.
But amid the gory front pages and the endless social media outrage promoting hate and social disunity, a number of voices are speaking out firmly and clearly for harmony.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life came together in ‘unity marches’ across France and the rest of the globe this weekend — and many of the voices for peace are are Muslims, quietly working to promote unity and to decry the horrors perpetrated supposedly in the name of Islam.
A unity rally in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks. (Photo: Getty)
One such Muslim is 24-year-old supermarket worker Lassana Bathily. This weekend, Bathily was being hailed a hero after it was revealed he hid Jewish shoppers in the basement during the terrifying siege in a Kosher supermarket in Paris at the weekend.
As radical gunman and self-proclaimed ISIS supporter Amedy Coulibaly raged upstairs — having rounded up 19 hostages and murdered three on the spot — Mr Bathily, a Muslim of Malian descent, risked his own life by guiding the hostages to a walk-in freezer in the basement.
“I turned off the lights and the fridge. I closed the door and told them to keep quiet,” he recalled, according to the Daily Mail.
Mr Bathily then sneaked away using a goods lift and slipped out to brief police on what the hostage-taker was doing upstairs — brave actions that may have saved the lives of those hostages, including at least two young children.
The Hyper Casher kosher grocery store in Paris, where gunman Amedy Coulibaly took 19 hostages. He told BFMTV station he had ‘co-ordinated’ with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State. (Photo: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Bathily’s act of heroism comes just days after Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet lost his life in the horrifying terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo editorial offices in the French capital.
That attack — perpetrated by two extremist gunmen to whom Coulibaly claimed to be linked — left a total of 12 dead, including eight editorial staffers and two policemen.
Merabet was shot point-blank by one of three gunmen on the street outside the offices, after reaching out his hand and asking: “Did you want to kill me?”
Ahmed Merabet. (Photo: Twitter)
In a touching act of solidarity, the hashtag #JeSuisAhmed (“I am Ahmed”) has been trending since Ahmed’s death; the social media movement aims to create awareness of how the Muslim man died defending freedom of speech and trying to ward off fundamentalist attackers who claimed to be acting in the name of religion.