The Association for the Garden of the Righteous in Milan has chosen the figures who will be honoured in the ceremony of dedication of the trees and the stones in the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide on Monte Stella hill of Milan, on the occasion of next European Day of the Righteous (6 March).
The guiding theme in the choice of the nominations has been “The Righteous of dialogue: the encounter of diversities to overcome hatred". After the tragic events of the past few months, we felt the urgency to recall the people's attention on the meaning of the respect of human plurality as condition of dialogue, through the stories of five exemplary figures of the past and our time.
The new trees will be dedicated to Lassana Bathily and Mohamed Ben Abdesslem, two Muslims who have had the courage to save Jews and Christians from the murderous fury of terrorists; Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger symbol of the struggle for a society free from fundamentalism; Pinar Selek, the Turkish activist struggling for the rights of minorities; and Etty Hillesum, the young Jewish girl who did not surrender even in the face of extreme evil.
“Milan is in the forefront in the topic of the Arab and Muslim Righteous against terrorism. After the inauguration of the Garden of the Righteous of Tunis in past July, we keep on in this commitment also in Milan. - underlines Gariwo's President Gabriele Nissim - We have chosen to honour those who fight against fanaticism and hatred and for dialogue. These Righeous figures show us the way we need to undertake: their example confirms the value of human solidarity and the respect of the other, which is timeless, and even more necessary in moments of crisis such as the current one.”
“The five names that were proposed this year have a fundamental value not only for the loftiness of their gestures and lives, but also for the deep pedagogical value their choices and witnesses express. – says the President of the City Council Lamberto Bertolé. - The Garden of the Righteous enriches with new examples, new models that we hope can help us add one more piece in the struggle against fundamentalism and hatred”.
Lassana Bathily, Young Muslim from Mali, clerk in the Jewish supermarket Hyper Cacher of Paris, who not only protected and rescued the shop's customers during the attack of the Islamic terrorists on 9 January 2015, but also became a witness to the struggle against fundamentalism. In his conferences, Bathily explains you cannot kill in the name of a God who belongs to the whole humanity.
Mohamed Naceur (Hamadi) ben Abdesslem, Tunisian guide who during the attack at the Bardo Museum on 18 March 2015 rescued about thirty Italian tourists taking them to the closest police headquarters. To him we dedicated a tree in the Garden of the Righteous inside the Italian embassy to Tunis, inaugurated on 15 July 2016
Raif Badawi, Saudi blogger, supporter of the secular state and the democratic rights, who was imprisoned in his country and sentenced over apostasy, violation of Islamic values and propaganda of liberal thought to ten years and thousand lashes. Human rights organizations have mobilized in vain for his release, supporting the protest of his wife Ensaf Haidar.
Pinar Selek, sociologist, brave Turkish activist for human rights, protagonist in the defence of her country's minorities, in particular the Kurds, who was persecuted, tortured and jailed in her homeland and forced to exile to France, where she works as a researcher at the Ecole Normale Supérieure di Lione.
Etty Hillesum, Dutch Jewish woman deported by the Nazis to the death camp, who decided not to abandon her people to try and get into safety herself, and believed until the last moment of her life in the ability of human beings to redeem and choose the good, refusing to assimilate an entire people to the image of evil.