Shaymaa Ismaa’eel flashes a peace sign.
A Muslim woman has taken a positive, peace-filled stand against Islamophobic protesters, and it's literally — not figuratively, literally — the best thing you'll see today.
While attending a Muslim conference in Washington on Sunday, 24-year-old Shaymaa Ismaa’eel came across a group of angry protestors holding signs and shouting that she and her friends would be heading to hell.
So, instead of getting angry, or responding with hate, Shaymaa decided to do something positive instead. She crouched down in front of them, flashed an enormous smile and flicked a peace sign for a picture.
She shared the picture with the caption, “Kindness is a mark of faith. Those who aren’t kind have no faith.” -Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).”
The photo, which was then posted to Instagram and Twitter, soon went viral, resulting in an outpouring of support for the young Muslim woman.
Speaking to the Guardian about the photograph, she said: I wanted them to see the smile on my face, and see how happy I was to be me and walk around being a Muslim woman.
“I wanted to show them that we are going to remain kind and unapologetic, and continue to spread love in the face of bigotry.”
Ismaa'eel, who works as a behavioural therapist for children with autism in the DC area, was attending the Islamic Circle of North America convention, which brings together thousands of Muslims each year.
She said she'd seen the protestors the day before while she headed into the convention, but had decided to simply walk past them, making sure they could see her smiling face.
However, she realised it just wasn't enough. Speaking to Buzzfeed, she said, “I kept thinking about them during the workshops. 'What if we had a loud speaker so they can hear the beautiful things we’re learning about our beloved prophet?!' I kept thinking to myself.”
So, the next day, she decided to take her stand, and crouched down in front of the Islamophobes: I smiled so hard in the picture and the man starting directing his speech toward me. Silly things like 'your face should be covered.'
She added, “My face lit up when I saw them again, because I wanted them to see my joy. I just wish they could hear all the love being spread inside the conference instead of protesting outside.”
She also said that she and her friends often get harassed as they walk around in their hijabs and that they occasionally feel unsafe, and that she has taken photographs in-front of Islamophobic protestors before.
However, she emphasised that she feels her actions, and the picture, has taken on a deeper significance since the mosque shooting that took place in New Zealand earlier this year.
She said, “Today, we are getting more unapologetic – we aren’t afraid anymore.
Today more than ever we are aware of our struggles and we want to stand up for ourselves.”
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