Woman wearing hijab takes smiling picture in front of anti-Islam protesters

A Muslim woman has won praise for sending a message of positivity after a photo of her smiling in front of a group of anti-Islam protesters went viral.

Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, 24, was attending the Islamic Circle of North America conference in Washington, DC when she saw the protesters, and she knew she did not want to let the moment pass.

She told the Press Association via email: “I really wanted to combat their hatred with kindness honestly. I wanted them to see my face and simply walking by wasn’t enough.”

Shaymaa, who is a behavioural therapist as well as a budding lifestyle YouTuber, explained she first saw the protesters as she arrived for the second day of the conference.

“The first thing I saw were the men with the signs on the street between the convention centre buildings,” she said. “The men were protesting against Islam as well as our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

“Most people were very upset and didn’t know how to embrace their presence. Some teens were getting upset, trying to approach the men. Most people just walked by without giving them any attention.”

It was on day three of the conference that Shaymaa got the photo, saying “I smiled so hard in the picture and the man starting directing his speech toward me.

“Silly things like ‘your face should be covered’ and ‘you know it’s a cult when you’re walking outside wearing pajamas.'”

But while Shaymaa saw the funny side, her friend did not.

“She felt that if she had seen this as a kid, she wouldn’t want to wear hijab,” said Shaymaa.

“She hoped the parents that day truly educated their children on the beauty of our religion and amazing person our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was.”

- Press Association

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