The president of the Iraqi Red Crescent has urged the International Committee of the Red Cross to stop sending aid marked with red crosses after the internationally protected symbol almost cost four staffers their lives.In addition to the comments I made there, I wanted to note a bit more about the background of Jean Henri Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross (from Wikipedia):
Two truck drivers and two volunteers were delivering water and medicine to the city of Haditha four weeks ago when they were captured by insurgents, said Said Hakki, a neurology professor who returned from Florida last year to take charge of Iraqi relief operations.
"They were seized by a terrorist group who threatened to behead them because they thought the crosses on the water and food containers meant the men were Christian missionaries," said Mr. Hakki, who made his plea during a visit last week to ICRC headquarters in Geneva.
He said the terrorists seemed unmoved by the fact that the two trucks themselves were marked with the red crescent symbol typically used in Muslim countries.
In Geneva, an ICRC spokeswoman said the red cross and red crescent are not religious symbols and that international treaties require that both must be respected everywhere.
[...] the kidnappers had bound and blindfolded the four men and told them to say their final prayers before the aid workers convinced their captors that they were Sunni Muslims from Fallujah and that their supervisor was a Sunni with strong tribal connections in the area.
Dunant was born in Geneva as the first son of businessman Jean-Jacques Dunant and his wife Antoinette Dunant-Colladon. His family was very devoutly Calvinist and had significant influence in Geneva society. His parents strongly stressed the value of social work, and his father was active helping orphans and parolees, while his mother worked with the sick and poor. Particularly influential for young Dunant was a visit to Toulon where he saw the suffering of prison inmates.I post this here rather than on LAF because that site is more specifically political and this isn't really relevant to the point I am making. I just found the subject interesting.
Dunant grew up during the period of religious awakening known as the Réveil, and at age eighteen he joined the Geneva Society for Alms giving. In the following year, together with friends, he founded the so-called "Thursday Association", a loose band of young men that met to study the Bible and help the poor, and he spent much of his free time engaged in prison visits and social work. On November 30, 1852, he founded the Geneva chapter of the YMCA and three years later he took part in the Paris meeting devoted to the founding of its international organization.
Update: The complete text of Dunant's "A Memory of Solferino" can be found here.