The death of British soldier Lee Rigby is unspeakable. Butchered in broad daylight in the streets of Woolwich on Wednesday, it is now believed to be an act of terrorism and has the whole world in a state of shock. It’s the kind of thing that feels surreal, and that of course is never ever acceptable. But what I find amazing is that amongst the horror, the beauty of humanity had a chance to emerge.

In covering the case, the media has brought to light two women who stood their ground and fought for the dignity of Rigby’s last moments. The first has not been identified, but she reportedly pleaded with the killers to be able to comfort the dying Rigby. She approached him without fear, put her hands on him and is thought to have been praying. She has since been dubbed the “angel of Woolwich”.

The other woman was mother of two grown-up children, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. When her bus stopped because of the scene, she thought that there’d been an accident and jumped out to help. Only on approaching did she realise she was talking to a man holding a knife and revolver, but she calmly tried to reason with him and ask if and why he’d done such a thing. She stayed for at least some twenty minutes, hoping to distract them from further violence until the authorities began to arrive.

While these women tried to help, many others stood by and watched from afar. In a society where people tend to think of themselves first, this courage is truly praiseworthy. Think about it – would you enter such a terrible moment at your own risk to give a dying man a few last moments of comfort? While we all wish that this sad incident never took place, we can definitely be inspired by the humanity of its aftermath.

Photo: ITV News via the UK Mirror

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.