Their booth says 'Ask a Muslim,' but it's not religion they want to talk about.

After the success of their "Ask a Muslim" booth, Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins reflect.

It's a scary time to be a Muslim in America. Mona Haydar would know.

She set up an "Ask a Muslim" display outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, library last year. Coming shortly after the San Bernardino attacks, Mona's stand made national and even international news for offering a unique way of humanizing and softening people's preconceived notions about what it means to be Muslim.



At the time, attacks against mosques and Muslim Americans had spiked. It's the result of what Mona describes as "collective guilt."

It's a double standard too often applied to Muslims — think about all the times you've heard demands that the Muslim community condemn terrorist attacks and how few calls you hear for other groups to do the same. For example, if a white, Christian man commits an act of terror, it's rare to hear calls for a ban on white Christians or demands that the pope or other prominent white or Christian leaders issue a statement condemning the attack.

That's why Sebastian, Mona's husband, was scared.

The pushback against Muslims caused Sebastian to rethink his own safety in the world and how much harder it must be for people like Mona, who are visibly identifiable as being "different."

It was an eye-opening experience for him in understanding his own privilege.

To counter the misconceptions about Muslims, the couple set out to have conversations with anyone who would listen about anything they'd like to talk about.

Mona notes that the sign's open-ended premise of "Ask a Muslim" was intentional. It wasn't "Ask a Muslim about Islam" but rather an invitation to talk about whatever.

"Ask us about the Red Sox," she jokes.

In a just and fair world, an act like theirs wouldn't be seen as remarkable. In the current climate, it certainly is.

Sebastian sums it up perfectly.

Watch the Upworthy Original Video about Mona and Sebastian below:

More
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture