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This Muslim Woman Took A Photo In Front Of An Anti-Muslim Protest And People Want It In A Museum

"On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment."

This is Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, 24, a behavioral therapist for children with autism from the DC area.

Ismaa’eel told BuzzFeed News she went to the Islamic Circle of North America convention on Saturday and said the first thing she saw there was a group of men with signs protesting outside.

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She said: "Most people were very upset and didn't know how to embrace their presence. Some teens were getting upset, trying to approach the men."

This is what the bigot’s America has produced at the Icna Convention in DC. Bigots with loudspeakers harassing Muslims verbally without stop since yesterday. Shame on them and the politicians and Islamaphobes who sow discord. Cc @Stonekettle @MalcolmNance @mehdirhasan

She said that her friends were told they were going to hell by the protesters when they walked past them.

Ismaa’eel said she wanted to combat their hatred with kindness. So on day three of the convention she asked her friend Jamilah to take a photo of her.

She said: "I wanted them to see my face and walking by wasn’t enough. We were busy Saturday and they had left by the time things at the convention slowed down."

"I kept thinking about them during the workshops," she said. "'What if we had a loud speaker so they can hear the beautiful things we’re learning about our beloved prophet?!' I kept thinking to myself."

She said she did some shopping, left the main building, and then saw them again.

Ismaa'eel said: "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.

"I smiled so hard in the picture and the man [started] directing his speech toward me. Silly things like 'your face should be covered.'"

Despite what happened, Ismaa'eel said she had a great time at the convention. She said: "Overall, this didn’t ruin the experience for me in the slightest."

Her photo got over 50,000 likes on Instagram and has since been reshared to Twitter, where people have said her photo is historic.

Future history books gone saucy 🔥🔥🔥 Look. At. This. Photo.

Ismaa'eel said the response has been crazy. "I didn’t expect more than my usual 120 likes," she said.

Ismaa'eel said: "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."

Put this in somebody museum. https://t.co/yuaIzD6OyO

However, her mum was a bit worried once her photo started to go viral.

She said: "My mom messaged me when my post was at 3k saying 'Your ICNA post is all over the place. Please be aware of your surroundings.' She’s definitely nervous because it’s clear people like that typically aren’t the kindest."

She added: "Everyone is proud of me honestly while praying for my safety."

On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment.

This is hands down the greatest thing I've ever seen in the history of the internet. https://t.co/5UwNSNQDkr

some real boss moves alhamdulillah https://t.co/GQWtCppMjH

Ikran is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.

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