She was inspired by This American Life.
Image via Facebook
Recently, residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts, were invited to enjoy free coffee, doughnuts, and much-needed conversation, thanks to Mona Haydar. Fed up with the rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry and tired of having to explain herself and her religion, she set up a stand with a sign that read, “Ask a Muslim.” “My husband, Sebastian, was inspired one night and remembered an episode of This American Life where an Iraqi guy sets up shop with a sign that [read] ‘Talk to an Iraqi’,” Haydar said. She thought, “Why not do something similar?”
Before setting up her stand, she felt some understandable trepidation. “I was afraid we’d face a lot of Islamophobia because of all the Donald Trump rhetoric,” Haydar said. “But honestly, I decided if we were going to do it, we were going to have to go in with really positive attitudes.” Although Haydar wasn’t asked any serious questions, she did receive words of encouragement from many of those who stopped by. She heard people say, “Hey, I really love what you’re doing” and “Thank you for doing this.” Others apologized for Americans such as Trump who have fanned the flames of Islamophobia.
After taking down her stand, she posted some encouraging news on Facebook. “We weren’t out there that long today but the takeaway was clear: keep your heads held high, dear Muslim family. There is an overwhelming amount of love and so remember this post when you are faced with bigotry and hatred towards you or your faith.” After having such a positive experience with her first “Ask a Muslim” stand, she looks forward to having another. “We’re planning to do it again soon, and we look forward to it,” Haydar said. “You know, we had such great encounters with folks.”