How we honor Muslims who stand up to terror

From Religious News Service

“Nissim and his colleagues have worked to tell the stories of “righteous” … as a way to open new channels of understanding among peoples chained by conflict.”

Most people recognize that Islamist terrorists who kill and maim in the name of God do not represent the other billion-plus Muslims in the world today. But still, there is a widespread, if not always articulated, view that huge percentages of Muslims are enablers, cheerleaders or at least passive shoulder-shruggers at what the terrorists do. No doubt a certain number are – probably fewer than feared but more than one would hope.

This is why what took place last Friday, just across the Mediterranean, on the grounds of the Italian Embassy in Tunis, is so important. That is where people of various faiths, nationalities and ethnicities came together to consecrate a “Garden of the Righteous” to honor the memory of Muslims who risked — and in some case, gave — their lives to save others from the horror of terror.

A plaque at the entrance of the Garden of the Righteous. Photo courtesy of Garden of the Righteous Worldwide

The concept of a Garden of the Righteous draws from the example of the sacred space at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to victims and heroes of the Holocaust, dedicated to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during humanity’s darkest hour.

Taking this idea and applying it to Muslims who risked or gave their lives in the face of terror is the brainchild of the Italian historian Gabriele Nissim, founder of the Milan-based organization Gariwo, which stands for Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide.

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