The first 30 seconds were nerve-wracking
In the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attack that killed 22 people in Manchester, England, hate crimes against Muslims in that city have doubled. According to the Greater Manchester Police, 56 hate crimes were reported to police last Wednesday, up from a daily average of 28. Amid the strife caused by the attack, one Muslim man took to a busy Manchester street to help bring the community together.
Baktash Noori, a YouTube vlogger who goes by The Life of Bako, conducted an experiment to see how Manchester residents really feel about Muslims. Noori stood on the city’s busy Market Street, blindfolded next to a sign that read “I am Muslim & I trust you. Do you trust me enough for a hug?” The first 30 seconds were nerve-wracking for Noori. “But once I got that first hug with a lovely comment from that gentleman in my video, it made me feel a whole lot better,” he told Manchester Evening News.
Soon, person after person stopped and gave him a hug. One man told Noori, it’s “a beautiful thing you’re doing mate” and a woman gave him a big hug, saying, “of course I trust you.” Noori couldn’t believe the response he received. “With every hug, the comments I received were amazing; some were getting all teary. And it’s not hard to tell by a person’s hug and tone of voice how much better their and my day became because of this,” he said.
Eventually, a line of people developed in front of Noori and photos of his brave experiment began to appear on social media. “Thank you very, very much to all of you that have given me a hug,” Noori told the crowd that assembled. “It means a lot because, you know what, nowadays anything that happens on the news, the majority of the time the wrong people get blamed for it, you know? You get stereotyped and discriminated.” Noori’s experiment shows that while the hateful acts of a few get all of the attention, there’s a quiet, yet powerful, feeling of community most people share that should not be overlooked.