The White Helmets Have Saved 82,000 Lives — This Is The Quran Verse That Keeps Them Going

The volunteer group gained crucial recognition for their work when the documentary about them won an Oscar.

The White Helmets, a Netflix film about a volunteer group of first responders in Syria, won the Oscar last night for Best Documentary Short. It was a huge boost for the organization, officially known as the Syrian Civil Defense, that has been working to save civilian lives under increasingly dire circumstances.

Raed Saleh, the leader of The White Helmets, did not attend the event, but on social media, Saleh gave his acceptance speech in a video posted on The Syria Campaign's Facebook page

"On behalf of all the White Helmet volunteers in Syria, I would like to thank you for giving us this great award, which will help give all our volunteers the moral support to continue rescuing civilians in Syria," Saleh said. "Our humanitarian work is based on a verse from the Quran: 'to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind.'"

Saleh's statement in the video was a longer version of the one that the film's director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara read onstage at the event while accepting the award. Saleh said that the White Helmet volunteers have rescued 82,000 civilians, and urged the world to help end the conflict. 

"I ask everyone who is listening and seeing me now across the world to take a stand to stop the killings of civilians in Syria. To stop the bloodshed of the Syrian people, to pressure governments to end the ongoing Syrian conflict, and to hold the criminals who have committed human rights violations to account," Saleh said.

Now in its sixth year, the Syrian civil war remains a bloody mosaic of warring factions with no end in sight. But The White Helmets' win on Sunday served as an important recognition of those risking their lives to save others, and Saleh's profound speech a valuable repudiation of the Islamophobic policies that target the most vulnerable people in the world. 

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