Yes, by forcing the terrorists to kill Muslims in addition to Christians they helped bring solidarity to their nation and didn't allow the radicals to further create hatred between Muslims and Christians in their nation. By not allowing the terrorists to separate them by religion, the passengers revealed the terrorists own hypocrisy when they murdered members of their own faith who did nothing but protect the people around them.
Anyone who would risk their lives for someone else during an attack, whether it's religious based or not, should definitely be considered a hero. That's an incredibly brave thing to do. How could anyone say that they aren't heros for saving peoples lives? This is an example of how different religious shouldn't change how you feel about someone and how you treat them.
I don't understand how Kenyan Muslims could not be described and defined as heroes for shielding Christian passengers from Islamist extremists during this attack. Would we question the heroism of their acts if it were the Christian passengers shielding the Kenyan Muslims from the Islamist extremists attacking? Anyone willing to take a life to protect another should be rewarded.
These people are clearly real heroes; they put themselves directly into danger to help out their fellow human beings. These people are going to be considered heroes especially by the people whose lives they saved when they confronted Islamic extremists during an extreme religious attack on a bus in Mandera.