A 24-year-old Muslim woman has been praised for the extraordinary way she reacted to a group of male anti-Islam protesters.
Shaymaa Ismaa’eel attended the Islamic Circle of North America convention in Washington DC on Saturday, when she came across a group of men holding signs and protesting against the religion.
On the third day of the convention after seeing them again, the behavioural therapist decided to take a stand against the protesters’ hatred by posing for a smiling snap right in front of them.
“My face honestly lit up when I had seen [them]. I yelled to my friend Jamilah, ‘There they are! Can you take a picture?'” she told Buzzfeed about the moment she decided to capture the photo.
“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.'”
Her image shared on Instagram has attracted over 200k likes since being posted earlier this week, and Shaymaa says the positive response from strangers has been very “uplifting”.
“The positivity from this is very uplifting and it’s making me happy to know that the youth can see someone being unapologetic in the face of people who hate their religion.”