Amidst what she believed to be a surge in “Islamophobia” following Donald Trump’s harsh comments about Muslims and ISIS, a Michigan woman took to the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts, hoping to combat ignorance and redeem the religion of Islam.
Her experiment, however, yielded some unexpected results.
Mona Haydar, a native of Flint Township, was tired of hearing all of the anti-Muslim rhetoric being thrown around by Trump and other critics of Islam, so she decided to do something about it herself.
“There is definitely fear [in America], and I want to talk about it, because it’s actually misplaced and misguided — I am really nice!” Haydar told the Boston Globe.
Haydar and her husband, Sebastian Robins, were visiting Robins’ family in Massachusetts when Haydar said he got the idea to set up a booth and invite others to “Talk to a Muslim,” MLive reported.
"My husband Sebastian was inspired one night and remembered an episode of 'This American Life' where an Iraqi guy sets up shop with a sign that (read) 'Talk to an Iraqi,'" Haydar told MLive. "So he thought why not do something similar."
Haydar and Robins set up their booth outside a Cambridge library last Friday and Saturday with panels that read “Ask a Muslim” and “Talk to a Muslim,” the Globe reported. The couple supplied donuts, coffee and fruit to draw in the crowds.
“We just wanted to talk to people, and we didn’t see any harm in doing that,” Haydar told the Globe. “We are just normal people.” Haydar told the Globe.
But what happened next surprised Haydar.
According to the Globe, Haydar’s experiment sparked a series of conversations about religion, politics, history and even sports.
If fear and intolerance of Muslims in America has been on the rise lately, Haydar’s interactions with Cambridge locals did not reflect it. Her unexpected big takeaway was that “the community is loving.”
Though Haydar was hesitant at first “because of all the Donald Trump rhetoric,” she learned something during the experiment that confirmed her personal beliefs about humanity.
"I am love," Haydar told the Globe. "All people at their cores are love. Some do bad things and stray from that, but ultimately I am good and kind because we all are. I am a reflection of my community. My human community.”
Haydar, whose experience has inspired her to set up another booth in the future, had positive things to say about Americans as a whole:
"We believe in what this country was built on," Haydar told the Globe. "We believe in the dream of the Founding Fathers. Yes, we are largely a community with more recent immigrant roots than other Americans, but that doesn't make us inferior. Every person in this country came from somewhere else except for my Native American sisters and brothers."
(H/T: The Boston Globe)
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