Back in May, a simultaneously tragic and uplifting news story went largely unnoticed: A man by the name of Najih Shaker Al-Baldwai (pictured above), from Balad, Iraq, stopped an ISIS suicide bomber from detonating his explosive vest in a local shrine. In a tremendous display of bravery, Al-Baldwai threw himself on the would-be bomber — knocking both of them to the ground, and reducing the area of the blast.
Balad City, Al-Baldwai’s hometown, is home to the Sayyed Mohammead Shrine — the target of the suicide bomber’s attack. Slightly north of Baghdad, it is a common example of a city caught between Sunni and Shiite tensions. Being a center for US Air Force operations in Iraq, there is a large opportunity for inter-mixing of cultures — and, unfortunately, the destructive tensions that can arise as a result of this.
Reports stated that though 37 were killed and up to 70 injured, were it not for this remarkable man’s act of bravery and self-sacrifice, hundreds of men, women, and children inside of the Sayyed Mohammead Shrine would have died instantly. With so many sensationalist reports of ISIS’s actions in the US, this heroic act serves as an important reminder: The main targets of Islamic extremists are everyday people, Muslims living in cities and attending to their religious commitments.
As we continue to be confronted each day with reports of the war in the Middle East, the editors hope that Al-Baldwai’s example will continue to inspire a spirit of unification over common bonds: The love of family, country, and spirit that bind us together, rather than divide us.
This article was inspired by this one here