Shaymaa Ismaa’eel is an internet superstar.
Until recently, the 24-year-old behavioral therapist from the DC area wouldn’t have ever imagined that she would soon be an internet celebrity. That all changed when, on her way to a convention Saturday morning, she took a stance against bigotry.
Ismaa’eel went to attend an Islamic Circle of North America convention when she encountered a group of protestors outside the convention. These protesters were carrying anti-Muslim placards and were using loudspeakers to verbally abuse and harass those who had come out to attend the convention. A number of young people who had come to attend the convention were visibly disgruntled, but no one quite knew how to react to such a blatant display of bigotry.
Until Ismaa’eel stepped in.
When the young Muslim woman encountered the protesters, she had an idea. She decided to show kindness in the face of bigotry. Shaymaa asked her friend Jamilah to take pictures of her in front of the protesters.
“On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment,” she captioned the pictures when uploading it on her Twitter and Instagram.
The internet was thrilled. Social media users were ecstatic with what the young woman had done. In her own ingenious little way, Ismaa’eel showed the world that the best way to deal with hate and bigotry was not to be hateful, but rather, loving. The young woman asked a police officer if she could stand on the curb in front of the men, and even though the police officer refused to give her permission, Ismaa’eel couldn’t resist acting on her impulse, according to BuzzFeed News.
“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.”
Her pictures soon went viral everywhere on the internet — from Twitter to Instagram to Reddit — and social media users commended the young woman for her actions. Some doubted if the pictures had been photoshopped, but Ismaa’eel soon clarified they were not, giving the internet one of its most magnificent moments this week. Her pictures racked hundreds of thousands of likes on Instagram and more than 50,000 retweets on Twitter. On Reddit, her picture hit the front page.
Shaymaa Ismaa’eel cannot be more pleased.
“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,” she said.