By Aamir Quraishy
On Saturday March 11th 100’s of Muslims hit the streets across America to dispel ignorance and tell people across the US: “we are Muslims AND we are Americans!” Locations included Southwest Chicago, Boston, Fitchburg Massachusetts, and many other cities across the US.
(See below respective links to twitter posts of those events)
All around the US there was a positive response including people asking for hugs and making sure, they knew we were loved.
As I stated in a letter to the AZ republic, I was in town at the Tucson festival of books where we had an overwhelmingly positive response.
Saturday was an amazing day. It started with making the “Meet a Muslim” signs. Of course, I got the big, nice printed one! I then took position in front of our bookstore’s booth. It was lively! Every couple minutes people would come up to me and ask questions. All of questioners were amazing!
The most common question was “how are you faring in Trump’s America?” I would always answer positively. Even now it is amazing how positive everyone has been. As Mr. Rogers said, “”Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
I may have gone to the bookstall to give people a more positive view of Muslims, but whatever I gave I received a thousand times more.
Another frequent question was, “what is the most common question people keep asking you?” This ended up the funniest question.
Many times people came up to shake my hand and said, “Pleasure to meet you!” or “Hello Muslim, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” It was, of course, an incredible pleasure to meet them as well.
I met people of so many minorities and creeds, from Christians to Buddhists, atheists, Mexicans, LGBT and people of so many walks of life. At one point a man came up to me and said, “Hello, I’m Mexican! We are not all criminals and rapists!” to which I responded, “I am a Muslim, we are not all terrorists and anti-American.”
Some people gave me their unconditional sympathy. People felt upset at what I as an American had to hear, and the things said and done in the name of my religion and my Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) whom I hold with deep reverence. Some people didn’t know what else to give me, so they gave me the biggest hug they possibly could, and wished they could do more.
This is the America we live in. It is strong yet full of imperfections, compassionate and sometimes intemperate, loving, and honorable! This is an America we can all be proud of and continue improving.
The #MeetAMuslim campaign will continue in small capacities across the U.S. Follow on twitter, and keep a look out for us on the streets.