Shaymaa Ismaa’eel is a 24-year old Muslim woman living and working near Washington D.C. By all accounts, Shaymaa is funny, intelligent, kind and caring.
She’s a behavioral therapist who specializes in working with children who have autism. Oh, and she’s the kind of fearless that may see her picture go down in history books.
Say hi to Shaymaa and her awesome cat shirt, fam.
Over the weekend, Ismaa’eel attended the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) conference. ICNA is a grassroots organization devoted to supporting and uplifting Muslims, working with other interfaith organizations for the betterment of communities through social programs, education, outreach, and social justice.
You can often find ICNA chapters and members out in the community, feeding the hungry, offering clothing, shelter and support, providing safe spaces for young people, etc.
When Ismaa’eel arrived at the conference she was saddened — though not exactly surprised — to find a group of men with signs and loudspeakers protesting. The protesters harassed people as they were coming and going, often going so far as to single people out and shout at them.
Conference goers posted pictures on social media, of course. Note the man in the “women belong in the kitchen” shirt. That literally has nothing to do with Muslims or Christianity… but we guess he needed to add the misogynist cherry to this already awful sundae? At least one of the signs was incredibly homophobic as well; you’ll spot it in the background of some later images along with a John 3:16 sign that is literally not at all what John 3:16 says.
Anyway, here are some bigots.
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 pic.twitter.com/kDk2IqusAg
— Owaiz Dadabhoy (@owaizdadabhoy) April 20, 2019
Shaymaa noticed how upset some of the conference attendees were getting — particularly the young people. There was talk of how to approach the protesters, but nobody was sure how. She told Buzzfeed:
“Most people were very upset and didn’t know how to embrace their presence. Some teens were getting upset, trying to approach the men.”
Then the men told Shaymaa and her friends that they were going to hell. That’s when she started to put real thought into how to handle them. On the third day of the conference, she got her chance. Shaymaa wanted them to see her face and see that she wasn’t afraid of them, so she asked her friend to take pictures of her in front of them.
She straight up treated the protesters like they were a tourist attraction! The photo set is truly the stuff of legend.
The men were totally bothered by her, and verbally attacked her with comments she dismissed as “silly.” As they tore into her, she just kept on smiling and posing. She posted the pictures online later, expecting that a few friends or followers would get a laugh or maybe start a dialogue.
Here’s her Twitter post.
On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/Dbrtk7MDAw
— شيماء (@ShaymaaDarling) April 23, 2019
Yeah … that’s not what happened. Instead, the pictures took off like a rocket, inspiring tons of people.
A great photo showing that, as I've said once or twice previously, #MAGA people almost always look like MAGA people. 😂
The young woman is Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, 24.
The MAGAs are Cletus, Clint, Chad and Burt. pic.twitter.com/E4vcZgaC0D
— Spaceboy🛸 (@bm_sfg) April 24, 2019
Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, a 24-year-old Muslim woman came across these Islamophobic protesters in Washington D.C. this past weekend and defiantly (and very cheekily) decided to give zero f*cks.
Angry, bigoted fly-fisherman isn’t liking it at all. 👇 pic.twitter.com/INwqHemLhg
— Toula Drimonis (@ToulasTake) April 24, 2019
Whoever this queen is: we don’t deserve her. I STAN 🙌🏽🥰 pic.twitter.com/w30zrGYySK
— Lala ❤️ (@Askalaunad) April 22, 2019
Future history books gone saucy 🔥🔥🔥 Look. At. This. Photo. pic.twitter.com/v5HrOfL6oS
— Bernie BEEN Mac (@afroSHIRL) April 22, 2019
Where Islamophobia and homophobia meet.
— Judson (@OFFICIALLYJud) April 24, 2019
This is the photo that Shaymaa Ismaa’eel shared. Defiance in the face of bigotry and hatred is beautiful. pic.twitter.com/cTn2BmqtSj
— Diaspora Blues (@KowloonDandy) April 24, 2019
This is hands down the greatest thing I've ever seen in the history of the internet. https://t.co/5UwNSNQDkr
— Sarki. (@Waspapping_) April 23, 2019
Hilariously, Shaymaa wasn’t the only one to treat the protesters like a photo-op:
My brother happened to do the same pic.twitter.com/28XIWdjBSJ
— Zainab (@zai_nab_ba_ri) April 24, 2019