It's not easy facing a bully, but what do you do when you're confronted with a whole mob of them?
During President Donald Trump's visit to London last week, a crowd of his supporters and anti-Muslim protesters rallied in central London.
The protesters fixated their attention on a bus driven by a headscarf-wearing woman. The mob held up Islamophobic and pro-Trump signs, some shouted racial epithets, and a topless man ran up to the windshield and began verbally assaulting the driver.
It's hard to imagine what to do when you're targeted in a heated situation like that, but one inspiring photo showed the woman's powerful response: a smile.
Here’s tommy Robinson & trump supporters harassing, intimidating and abusing a Muslim female bus driver yesterday.… https://t.co/Ncy2OFdaI6— Imran khan (@Imran khan) 1531654302.0
The photo went viral in admiration of how she remained so calm, collected, and unfazed by the mob of protesters.
"Yet surrounded by dozens of protesters, the [Muslim woman] driver reacted with almost stereotypical Britishness: w… https://t.co/gSKVYnsuKY— CJ Werleman (@CJ Werleman) 1531752063.0
Free Tommy and pro-trump protestors harassing & targeting a Muslim bus driver. Look at her bravery. She smiles bac… https://t.co/sIHkzpGNnz— Yasmin Ahmed (@Yasmin Ahmed) 1531655319.0
Tommy Robinson fanboys harass a Muslim bus driver, while she sits smiling and rolling her eyes. Who's the hero here? https://t.co/CfYL1UIHq5— Ian Fraser (@Ian Fraser) 1531689067.0
However, some people disagree with celebrating the bus driver's calmness. In their opinion, fascists and racists shouldn't be afforded civility.
Yes that bus driver is brave, bless her for smiling through it, but why should she have to? Absolutely sick of thes… https://t.co/tZKzWw8Kxo— Shazzy (@Shazzy) 1531692342.0
Absolutely fuck the interpretation that the Muslim bus driver being calm and nice in the face of fascist abuse is s… https://t.co/wGWHlwG0SG— theresa may tears drinker (@theresa may tears drinker) 1531761646.0
Acts of racism like this are increasing at an alarming rate — particularly in the U.K.
In the United Kingdom, the Muslim and South Asian communities are often targeted by the English Defense League — a white supremacist organization — and far-right politicians. In June 2017, two Muslim cousins were attacked with acid in a hate crime. In October 2017, the U.K. Home Office released a report revealing a 29% increase in hate crimes compared with the previous year. Furthermore, out of all the hate crimes between 2016 and 2017, 78% were racially motivated.
But the headscarf-wearing woman is setting an example and offering us a glimpse of hope. She kept doing her job and refused to be baited by their hate. Despite the racist protests and scare tactics used, we still know that we're on the right side of history.