A photo has gone viral on social media of a 24-year-old Muslim woman smiling and flashing the peace sign in front of a group of angry Christian protesters holding signs denouncing Islam as “a religion of blood and murder.”
Shaymaa Ismaa’eel was in Washington D.C. over the weekend, where she was attending a convention of the Islamic Circle of North America, a grassroots umbrella group. While there, she said she repeatedly ran into a group of anti-Muslim protesters. The last time she saw them, she said, she decided to snap a selfie.
“My face lit up when I saw them again, because I wanted them to see my joy,” she recalled. “I just wish they could hear all the love being spread inside the conference instead of protesting outside.”
According to Ismaa’eel, she and many of her friends have faced harassment and even threats over their religion. But in wake of the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, she said that she and other Muslims were determined to show that they wouldn’t be intimidated. Just before taking her viral selfie, she said she attended a workshop discussing the Christchurch attacks. The first victim of those shootings, she said, had greeted the shooter by saying, “Hello brother.”
“His last words were a sign of kindness he was giving someone in the face of hatred. I want young Muslim children to know that we can still love our religion no matter who hates it,” Ismaa’eel explained. “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.”
Read the full story at the Guardian.