“Egyptian Muslims to Act as Human Shield at Coptic Christmas Mass” – were the headlines in a story two days ago from Ahram Online news. The story goes into detail on the unity of Egyptian Muslims coming together to shield fellow Egyptians from danger, Coptic Christians, people who share the same country but not the same faith. A week prior at a New Year’s service held at the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria more than 30 Egyptians were killed and over 90 injured in an attack carried out by a suicide bomber.
The story is a story that is seldom heard. This happened the day before the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. A shooting that seriously wounded a congresswoman, killed a judge, and took away life from a 9-year old. There were no Human Shields for the Arizona shooting and the country is grieving and rightfully troubled over this preventable tragedy.
Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab, lost his life last week being a verbal human shield. He defended the rights of a Christian woman in Pakistan – she a minority as a Christian, a minority as a woman. He had nothing in common with her on the surface but chose to advocate for her release and fight against blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
Would I be a Human Shield if someone or a group of people with whom I disagree are under attack? Let me bring this closer to home: If I knew a mosque was at risk of being attacked in the greater Boston area, would I be willing to serve as a human shield, despite the fact that I’m not Muslim and know there are fundamental differences in core beliefs? Would I be a shield of protection for people who have a belief or ideology with which I disagree, to protect life?
Convictions sometimes prohibit me from compassion and the practical living out of my beliefs. Somehow I get the idea that if I stand up for someone in the face of violence against them, whether it be physical or verbal, that I agree with them, that I am being untrue to my values and promoting those that are antithetical to mine. I don’t believe it’s that simple. Was the Good Samaritan afraid of losing his culture and his values? I’ll close with two questions:
- Would you be a Human Shield?
- Why or Why-not?