This Sunday Shaymaa Ismaa’eel – a 24-year-old behavioral therapist for children with autism woke up to a pleasant surprise as one of her tweets, or picture to be exact, went viral. The day before Shaymaa went to the Islamic Circle of North America convention she encountered a group of men with protest signs standing outside the venue. One of the signs read “Islam is a religion of blood and murder! The blood from Jesus is given as a ransom for all mankind” and another one read that “Jesus is the only begotten son of God.” In that instant, Shaymaa decided to fight bigotry in her own way.

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This 24-year-old went to the Islamic Circle of North America convention and was met with a group of men protesting outside

Image credits: ShaymaaDarling

Shaymaa later revealed to the media that people attending the convention felt uncomfortable and were visibly getting upset. She also mentioned that, while walking by, her friends were told by the protesters that they were going to hell.

Shaymaa decided to combat the hatred with kindness

Image credits: ShaymaaDarling

So, she asked her friend Jamilah to snap a picture of her in front of the hateful protesters. Shaymaa walked up while the men continued yelling and asked a police officer whether she could stand on the curb in front of the men. The officer declared ‘no’ blatantly and this incited a rebellious feeling inside Shaymaa. She later recalled to one media outlet: “I smiled so hard in the picture and the man [started] directing his speech toward me. Silly things like ‘your face should be covered.’”

The woman posted the picture to her Instagram and later to Twitter and both of the posts soon went viral


Image credits: ShaymaaDarling

“On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment,” Shaymaa’s caption on Twitter read. She was soon flooded with responses and support from hundreds of people.

She later tweeted that she wasn’t ‘expecting this AT ALL!’

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“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,” Shaymaa said to the media.

Shaymaa thanked everyone to the overwhelming amount of support she received over the weekend

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And clarified that the photos were not Photoshopped or altered in any way

Image credits: ShaymaaDarling

Other people who went to the convention also shared their experiences

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And some were even inspired to recreate Shaymaa’s picture

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People were impressed and some called Shaymaa’s move ‘bold’

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