SHAFAQNA – Sending a message of unity and understanding, an international campaign has been launched in the US to acknowledge those who stand up for each other across religious, racial and gender lines.
“We’re overexposed to narratives that lead to division, polarization and hate, amplified by the information that reaches us,” one of the campaign’s co-founders told Al Arabiya News on Monday, November 2.
“At the same time, we’re underexposed to constructive and unifying messages, despite there being a large number of people who stand up for each other in small and big ways.
“Exposing people to numerous stories of the so-called enemy as a protector of our own identity group is very powerful.”
Named “I Am Your Protector”, the campaign was launched in New York with a large screen in Columbus Circle and Washington Square Park, where images revealing stories that challenge prejudice toward different communities were displayed.
A photo of a group of Muslims forming a human shield with Christians to defend a church was displayed.
Other stories featured Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman who was executed for helping Jews during World War II, as well as Jews who supported Muslims and Christians during the Bosnian war.
Rabbis who were arrested while supporting the Black Lives Matter movement were also included in the show.
Besides the previous shows, a theater performance was held in Time Square.
While the campaign welcomes any individual or group that was a witness, a protector or has been protected, its database is based on testimonies of protectors worldwide.
“I Am Your Protector is a community of people who speak up and stand up for each other across religion, race, gender and beliefs. From bullying to genocide, and everything in between, we can either be silent and turn our heads the other way, or speak up and stand up for each other,” the group said on its Facebook page.
Organizers of the US-based campaign, which garnered more than 10,700 Facebook members, aim to reach out to European capitals in the coming year.
Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of Indian royalty, was born in Moscow in 1914 to an American mother and an Indian father.
Kahn joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in London and was then recruited in 1942 to the Special Operations Executive (SOE), an elite spy squad.
Initially known as Nora Baker Khan, Noor was given the code name Madeleine and in 1943, she was the first female radio operator to be flown secretly into Nazi-occupied Paris
For a period of time, she was the only link between the UK and the French Resistance.
Aged just 30, Khan managed to evade capture for three months but was eventually betrayed by French collaborators and arrested.
Despite being tortured, Khan revealed nothing of her mission or even of her real name. She was eventually executed in 1944 by the German Gestapo in the Dachau concentration camp
Britain awarded Khan the George Cross and France awarded her the Croix de Guerre.