"The White Helmets" won Best Documentary Short during the Academy Awards, however, two people involved in the project couldn’t make it to the event.
Khaled Khatib, one of the rescue workers with the civil defense group, who also served as a cinematographer on the award-winning short, was unable to attend the ceremony after the Syrian regime canceled his passport. Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, was also scheduled to attend the Oscars, but he didn’t because “intense air strikes across the country mean he must focus on work inside Syria.”
While accepting the award, though, "The White Helmets" director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara read a moving statement from Saleh.
"We're so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organization is guided by a verse from the Quran: 'To save one life, is to save all of humanity.' We have saved more than 82,000 Syrian lives," Saleh's statement read. "I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world."
The statement in itself was historic because it was for the first time ever Quran was quoted at the Oscars:
Quran verse dropped at #Oscars America hasn't ended. Constitution not replaced by Sharia. Statute of Liberty not wearing hijab. All is well.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) February 27, 2017
The best moment of the #Oscars was hearing a verse from the Quran during The White Helmets acceptance speech.— sarah amy harvard (@amyharvard_) February 27, 2017
First Mahershala, then Asghar Farhadi, then the White Helmets & then one of the most prominent quotes from the Quran. I'm so ????????? #Oscars— Eisha (@eishakhan54) February 27, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson