“I don’t feel like a hero at all. That girl who ran towards me is brave. That’s bravery.”
‘Hero’ is indeed an extraordinarily over/misused word these days. But despite his insistence to the contrary, Westgate Mall rescuer Abdul Haji deserves — no, embodies — the title.
Not only because he risked his life to save countless innocent civilians (including the especially iconic moment portrayed above) caught up in al-Shabaab’s deadly 4 day assault that began on September 21st, leaving at least 72 dead and scores injured and/or traumatized. Haji’s willingness to put his safety in further jeopardy by taking a public stand as a Muslim and ethnic Somali for tolerance and unity, despite the attempt to drive a destabilizing wedge between Muslims and non in Kenya, is a whole ‘nother level of courageous.
That said, the little girl is still without a doubt the baddest of ’em all.