A 15-year-old girl brings her school to cheers with a speech about Islam.

Teenagers are getting smarter. These days, they have to.

Take 15-year-old Isra Mohammed, for example.


Image via The Telegraph.

In the weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris, she and other Muslims around the world have faced daily ridicule and hate attacks. Sad and frustrated, she decided to prepare a presentation for her entire school. By the end, they were all cheering.

Here are five poignant moments from Isra's speech:

1. "What are your thoughts on this picture?"

Photos via Library of Congress and Islamic State/Wikimedia Commons.

Isra opens by asking the audience to consider the images above overlaid with these words: "No one thinks that these people are representative of Christians. So why do so many think that these people are representative of Islam?"

These two hate groups have more in common than their tastes for creepy masks and mass murder. Both operate on the premise of hate and violence, guided by perverse interpretations of what are otherwise peaceful faiths.

Thankfully, we've never had to read headlines like, "Hate Attacks on White Christians Spike After Klan Terror Spree," because that would be terrible. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for innocent Muslims after deplorable acts of terror by ISIS and the like.

2. "People think that Muslim women ... have no rights."

Photo by Azlan Mohamed/Wikimedia Commons.

"But we do," Isra said. "Look at me, for example. I'm Muslim, I'm a girl, but I don't wear a head scarf. I have the right and freedom to wear one."

And that's true. Wearing a hijab (or any other type of head scarf) is a choice for the vast majorty of the hundreds of millions of Muslim women on this planet — not the mandate of a cruel god, ruler, father, or husband.

In fact, some women see wearing a hijab as a demonstration of freedom, spirituality, and strength. So they're really no more oppressive than these amazing leather pants:

Or anything else he's wearing, for that matter. Photo by HebiFot/Pixabay.

3. Islam "is a religion of peace and mercy."

Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images.

Isra explains that in the same way people say "good morning" on a daily basis, she says "as-salamu alaikum," which means "peace be upon you." Not exactly cause for hostility.

Of course, there's more to being Muslim than pleasant greetings. She also explains the pillars of Islam, which really aren't so different from what we see in other faiths.

A declaration of faith and commitment to prayer? We've all seen it.

Giving to charity? C'mon.

Practicing self-discipline and moderation through fasting? That's just ... healthy.

A once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca? OK, that's one's more specific to Islam. But is it so unlike paying homage at a memorial for a loved one or one of your dearest idols?

The point is, everyone can find something good in common with Muslims. We just have to be open to it.

4. "If you are throwing out masses of hate, you are helping ISIS."


Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

The global game plan of ISIS is pretty simple: build their ranks by building Islamophobia. So if you want the attacks to stop, Isra explains, it doesn't make sense to treat all Muslims like enemies of the state.

In other words, if you act like this...

Photo by Raphael1/Wikimedia Commons.

...you're part of the problem, not the solution.

Ironically, most ISIS victims are Muslims. So if anything, we should see Muslims as allies in the fight against terrorism. "ISIS is not Muslim," said Isra. "Terrorism has no religion. ... They have hijacked our religion and used it against us."

5. "How would you feel if that was you?"


Photo by Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images.

Isra closes by asking her classmates to put themselves in innocent Muslims' shoes — from her and her family, who face daily derision even as British citizens, to the Syrian refugees, whose homes and lives were destroyed but are met at new borders with skepticism and disdain.

How would you feel if that were you?

Watch Isra Mohammed's poignant speech:

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

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