Muslim hero saves woman in Rome

OnIslam & Newspapers

CAIRO – A homeless Muslim man has been widely hailed as a hero after he braved the heavily polluted River Tiber to rescue a woman who jumped off a bridge in the center of Rome, Haaretz reported on Satuday, May 16.

“I am not a hero,” the 32-year-old Bangladeshi, Sobuj Khalifa, told Italian television TV2000.

“God wants us to help everybody.”

The story unfolded last Tuesday when Khalifa spotted a woman jumping off a bridge of the River Tiber under which he had found refuge.

Taking the decision in seconds, he quickly dove after the woman into the river, which cuts through the center of the historic city and is notoriously polluted.

Video of the rescue shows Khalifa holding on to the woman with one arm and swimming for the riverbank with the other, while rescuers arrived on the scene and people atop the bridge clapped and shouted “bravo!”

“I saw her fall from the bridge, I thought she was dead,” Khalifa is heard saying in a video shot by passerby which showed the rescue.

“But when I reached her I saw her eyes moving, I thought she could be still alive.”

Italian authorities said the Israeli woman, 55, jumped off the bridge in an apparent suicide attempt that may have been triggered by the end of a love story.

The unnamed woman was taken to hospital and is in good condition, a spokesman for Italian police in Rome told Haaretz.

Widely reported in Italy, the rescue comes in the middle of a stormy debate on immigration, as thousands of people attempt to flee war-torn regions of North Africa and the Middle East by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats.

Authorities rewarded Khalifa by granting him a permit to stay and work in Italy. He had been living illegally in Italy for eight years and has been homeless for the past four years.

.Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino wrote on his Facebook page that he had spoken to Khalifa to thank him for his “heroic and humane” act.

Riccardo Pacifici, the head of Rome’s Jewish Community, told Haaretz that the city’s Jews want to thank Khalifa for his bravery.

Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.7 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to the figures released by Istat, the national statistics agency.


Turkey Rescue Efforts Hurt by Lack of Equipment

Hürriyet Daily News

Search-and-rescue personnel working in the Van earthquake zone have decried their “primitive” working conditions and lack of technical equipment as they try and reach survivors from the eastern province’s devastating temblor.

“We are working with primitive tools, we have no equipment,” one rescuer told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Emergency personnel said they heard cries for help coming from under a collapsed building this morning and started to work on the wreckage to reach the survivors. The cries had stopped at around noon, they said, adding that they had to dig out the dead bodies of quake victims.

“We can’t get to survivors fast enough,” one rescue team member said.

The spirit among rescuers is noticeably low, and some members could only weep in frustration at the situation.

There is a device to find people under rubble, rescuers said, but added that they only had one of the devices in the district of ErciÅŸ, which was worst hit by the Oct. 23 quake.
“We yell into collapsed buildings, asking if anybody is there,” a rescue team member said.

Aid inadequate

Only one food distribution point was set up in Erciş and there was a significant lack of supplies and equipment. No new aid truck or supplies arrived for the hours that the Hürriyet Daily News was in Erciş.

Banks, hospitals and stores were all damaged or destroyed in the quake but there have been no reports of looting as people have continued to walk around ErciÅŸ in shock.

Many survivors said the only thing they wanted was some bread.

All but one of the homes in the nearby Yedikonak village was flattened in the quake.