A Muslim woman has become a viral sensation after she shared photos of herself posing in front of anti-Muslim protesters.
Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, 24, a behavioural therapist for children with autism from the DC area, went to the Islamic Circle of North America convention on Saturday and said the first thing she saw there was a group of men with signs protesting outside.
The protesters were bullying Muslims who passed by and told them they would go to hell.
The protest was causing a lot of tensions. So, Shaymaa said she decided to combat their hatred with kindness.
On day three of the convention, Shaymaa posed in front of the protesters and asked her friend Jamilah to take a photo of her. She was smiling in the photo and threw up a peace sign.
She posted the photo on social media and it quickly went viral with people asking for the photo to be placed in a museum.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Shaymaa said:
“I wanted them to see my face and walking by wasn’t enough. We were busy Saturday and they had left by the time things at the convention slowed down.
“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.”
She said she did some shopping, left the main building, and then saw them again.
She said: “My face honestly lit up when I had seen. I yelled to my friend Jamilah, ‘There they are! Can you take a picture?’
“I walked up as they continued yelling their hateful speech. I asked the police officer if I could stand at the curb in front of the men. The officer said ‘no’, and in that moment I felt like the biggest rebel.
“I smiled so hard in the picture and the man [started] directing his speech toward me. Silly things like ‘your face should be covered.'”
Despite what happened, Ismaa’eel said she had a great time at the convention. She said: “Overall, this didn’t ruin the experience for me in the slightest.”