‘Media blamed whole faith’: Canadian activist tries to cure Islamophobia with street hugs

A screen from YouTube video by AsoOmii Jay
After getting death and rape threats for being a Muslim, a Canadian activist decided to raise awareness about Islamophobia, asking people to hug a man labeled a “terrorist” in the streets of Toronto. She shared people’s moving reaction with RT.

READ MORE: Scarce MSM coverage of Chapel Hill shootings shows true extent of accepted Islamophobia

“We didn’t expect to receive so much positive reaction, this much encouragement and support. But we are happy to see Canadians react this way to Islamophobia,” Asoomii Jay, the action’s organizer, told RT.

Jay decided to take matters into her own hands after she experienced the growing hatred towards Muslims first-hand. Together with other Canadian activists, she carried out an inspiring social experiment called “Blind and Trust,” in which a Muslim man, Mustafa Mawla, stood blindfolded on a busy street in Toronto with his arms outstretched and open. The man had a sign beside him reading: “I am a Muslim. I am labeled as a terrorist,” and another that read, “I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug.”

“Due to the rise of Islamophobia, due to the rise of hate crimes that have been happening around the world and due to personal experience … it really moved us to try to raise awareness, to show people how we are made to feel in our own countries, our own homes,” Jay said

She cited the recent tragic incident in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where three Muslim students – activists themselves – were shot by their neighbor. According to the victims’ relatives, the suspected murderer was motivated by racial or religious hatred.

People are confused by disinformation in the aftermath of tragedies such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Jay said. Instead of blaming individuals who committed the horrible terrorist acts, some media “blamed the whole faith,” she added.

READ MORE:Family of slain Muslims calls Chapel Hill shooting 'absolutely… domestic terrorism'

“That has made us raise awareness, show people what we are made to feel, as well as encourage people to think for themselves, not believe everything they hear and see,” the activist explained.

A still from YouTube video by AsoOmii Jay

Jay said that the project was inspired by her own experience. Studying at Carleton University, she made into the top two in the school’s ‘Next Top Model’ competition and wore a hijab to show it’s not harmful. Some people got intimidated, however, and started calling her a terrorist because she was Muslim.

“I’ve always dealt with bullying or harassment because of my faith growing up, especially after 9/11….”

READ MORE:Hate crimes against Muslims in US have skyrocketed during ‘war on terror’

The video has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube in January. The project received a heartwarming response on social media, where people have been posting their reaction under the hashtag #BlindTrust and #BlindTrustProject.

A screen from YouTube video by AsoOmii Jay