Mona Haydar is Donald [t]Rump’s worst nightmare … a woman and a Muslim.
And with all this anti-Muslim rhetoric being spewed by the right, Mona wanted to do something about it; she wanted to talk about it.
And one night, while having dinner with her husband, Sebastian, he suggested she do something kind of crazy. Sebastian had seen a segment on This American Life where an Iraqi man had stood on the street with a sign that read, 'Ask an Iraqi.'
Mona liked that idea, so she set up a stand outside a library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with sign that read, "Ask a Muslim," and, along with a free cup of coffee and a doughnut, she offered to talk to strangers. At the end of the day, Mona posted her story to Facebook [HERE] and the post went viral, garnering over 11,000 ‘Likes’ and attention from all sorts of media outlets.
"We weren't out there that long today but the take away 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. Remember that you have supporters too." — Mona Haydar, on Facebook
Mona says most of the people who stopped to talk just wanted to connect and say, "Hey, I really love what you're doing" and "Thank you for doing this." And others stopped to apologize for what some are saying about the Muslim faith, the Muslim community.
“Initially, I thought I was going to get a lot of negativity, we were going to face a lot of Islamophobia. And I was going into it with that mindset. … People expect me to be some kind of boogeyman — so, I was like, I can't go into it with that kind of mindset. So I didn't prepare, I didn't have expectations of what people would bring. Honestly, I was really happily surprised with what happened. Because I went in with a super open heart, with a super open mind, and just let happen what was going to happen.”
And she met all sorts of people and shared all sorts of experiences that even she wasn’t prepared for; like the gay couple who stopped to chat, and ended up talking with Mona and Sebastian about what all couples talk about: their lives, their marriages. Mona even got advice from this gay couple — who’d been together for over twenty years — about her own four year marriage to Sebastian.
And, be ready, because Mona will be going back out there, with doughnuts and coffee, just to talk … about whatever you want to talk about. And maybe she’ll change some minds about what people think about Muslims, or perhaps she’ll realize that those narrow minds are few and far between, and mostly on the campaign trail.