North America

Muslim woman shuts down anti-Islam protesters by posing for a photo with them

Shaymaa Darling decides to use kindness and a smile to respond to protesters verbally harassing Muslims attending a conference. Source: ShaymaaDarling/Twitter

Shaymaa Ismaa’eel said she was motivated to respond to hatred with kindness when she saw and heard protesters delivering a message of Islamophobia.

A 24-year-old behavioural therapist for autistic children has been described as a "true icon" and "a queen" after she took a photograph with anti-Muslim protesters, while wearing her headscarf.  

Shaymaa Ismaa’eel had been attending an Islamic Circle of North America convention over the Easter long weekend when saw men protesting outside the venue, brandishing anti-Muslim signs and yelling at conference attendees. 

"On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment," Ms Ismaa’eel posted on Twitter.

Others were too intimidated to respond, saying they avoided confronting the protesters - but Ms Ismaa’eel said she asked a friend to snap the photo, because she wanted to combat the hatred with kindness and a sense of fun.

"I yelled to my friend Jamilah, 'There they are! Can you take a picture?'," she told Buzzfeed.

"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.'"

"[I]" didn't given them any attention," yousef aka tarzan posted on Twitter. 

Another said that in the same situation they would have been too scared to take such action.

Ms Ismaa’eel said the photo was not photoshopped, after some commented that the composition clearly spoke to them. 

"I love how she looks like she on a tour & the zoo animals are behind her being just that uncivilized," one social media user posted on Twitter.

Ms Ismaa’eel said she mulled over how to respond to the protesters for most of the day, bothered by their presence in front of the convention venue. 

"Most people were very upset and didn't know how to embrace their presence. Some teens were getting upset, trying to approach the men," she told Buzzfeed. 

Praise quickly followed with supporters calling for the photo to be included in a museum. 

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