A Muslim woman used her smile to fight Islamophobia is being hailed for her unique approach.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, 24-year-old behavioral therapist Shaymaa Ismaa’eel explained that she encountered the protesters, whose signs bore such hateful slogans as “Islam Is A Religion Of Blood And Murder!” while on her way to the Islamic Circle of North America convention in Washington, D.C.
According to Isamaa’eel the protestors were upsetting some of the younger attendees and some of her friends were told they were “going to hell” when passing the group. She decided to respond with unorthodox measures taking the opportunity for a smiling photo op in the face of a hateful background.
Isamaa’eel described the moment to BuzzFeed News, saying:
“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.'”
On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/Dbrtk7MDAw
— شيماء (@ShaymaaDarling) April 23, 2019
Her unique approach to fighting hate was hailed by observers online, some of whom wanted the image framed.
Put this in somebody museum. https://t.co/yuaIzD6OyO
— 地狱男爵 (@ayeBLOKE) April 23, 2019
Best picture you will see today!! ✌✌🙌🙌 https://t.co/cCpIaurwxC
— Philip Mwaniki (@Mwanikih) April 24, 2019
This is brilliant.. we don't have to fight by the same weapons we can do better like what shayma did https://t.co/dvOOq8vQYl
— مععععاو كيكة (@seifsamain) April 23, 2019
Your inner beauty is shining through with the fierceness of 1000 suns! I Love it!
— KimWim (@kimwim) April 23, 2019
https://t.co/nAxfDBkNSa this is AMAZING
— Ruby (@rbalshin) April 24, 2019
The irony here is hilarious. Islam is the religion of “blood and murder,” but the very basis of Christianity is the murder of Jesus and the power of his blood. https://t.co/Zj3RmQXZoE pic.twitter.com/Upfaq6impS
— breaker of chains (@KiaSpeaks) April 23, 2019
A WHOLE QUEEN 😤💘💓💖💕💞💗💖 https://t.co/3kc5apVSzh
— أم ماعز 🇾🇪 (@thehummus_) April 23, 2019
— Syed 🇵🇰 (@GuyWithABeard_) April 23, 2019
— Amie Tsang (@amietsang) April 24, 2019
— 🇹🇹Black🇭🇹Aziz🇳🇬aNANsi🇯🇲 (@Freeyourmindkid) April 23, 2019