When Moina Shaiq started her “Meet a Muslim” events in 2016, she wanted to change wrong perceptions filled out by media.
Three Years on, she still has hope of making a change, WFMZ News reported.
“The research constantly says that some people have never met a Muslim,” she explained. “I wanted to be that person. So I just took my laptop thinking that maybe a few people will show up. The first event drew over 100 people.”
Hearing the former President Barack Obama suggested that Muslims should speak out to change wrong perceptions filled out by media in 2016, Shaiq decided to start her own initiative.
She placed an ad in her local paper: Come have coffee and conversation with a Muslim.
“A lot of us don’t know anything,” Jose Oropeza said. “It’s good because you’re able to hear it from someone that’s an active and a practicing Muslim.”
Shaiq was only a one woman facing down hatred, one cup of coffee at a time.
“The basic misconception is that all Muslims are bad people,” she said. “All Muslims are extremists. They tell me to my face.”
“This is not what Islam is. I compare ISIS to KKK,” she said. “I started thinking, ‘What can I do proactively so that these hate crimes don’t happen?'”
Three years since that first coffee, Shaiq has led 200 more get-togethers in a dozen cities.
“So, just bringing perspective,” Shaiq said. “There are bad apples in every ethnicity, in every group you know …but that does not mean that everybody is bad.”
As the FBI has reported a 17% increase in hate crimes from 2016, Shaiq knows there is more work to be done.
“Muslims are not getting the support they deserve. So I think it’s great she’s promoting her culture and being a strong woman,” said Alice Carrol.
“Why not coexist with love and compassion?” Shaiq asked.
While Shaiq continues to raise awareness on her own, there are also several organizations aiming to foster a better understanding of Muslims.
In 2017, Muslim and former US Marine Mansoor Shams traveled across the country with a sign that read “I’m a Muslim and a US Marine, Ask Me Anything.”
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mona Haydar, and her husband set up a booth outside a library in 2015 with coffee, doughnuts and a sign that stated: “Ask a Muslim.” Other such events have taken place on US college campuses.