Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

Muslim woman's smiling selfie at anti-Islam protest in US goes viral

Photograph of woman posing in front of group gets hundreds of thousands of likes

Shaymaa Ismaa'eel decided to combat hate with a smile. Instagram/ Shaymaadarling
Shaymaa Ismaa'eel decided to combat hate with a smile. Instagram/ Shaymaadarling

A Muslim woman who posed for a smiling photograph in front of anti-Islam protesters in the US said she decided to "combat their hatred with love and a smile".

The picture of Shayma Ismaa'eel making a peace sign in front of the group of men holding placards denouncing Islam outside an Islamic conference in Washington, DC, went viral and has been liked hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter and Instagram.

The men had also been shouting anti-Muslim slogans, according to reports.

"I walked up as they continued yelling their hateful speech," Ms Ismaa'eel told CNN. "I smiled so hard in the picture and the man started directing his speech toward me."

She said the men started insulting her, telling her that her face should be covered and "You know it's a cult when you're walking outside wearing pyjamas".

The 24-year-old, who works with children on the autism spectrum, said the reaction to her post had been very positive and that people, in general, were becoming more tolerant of different religions.

"The reaction to all this has been crazy, it's overwhelming. I have had a lot of support," she told BBC's Newsbeat.

Ms Ismaa'eel's posts received thousands of comments, with many people supporting her stand.

"Beautiful smile and infectious! Made me smile just looking at the picture," one person wrote on her Instagram post. Another commented: "This made my day".

Updated: April 26, 2019 01:02 PM

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