NEW YORK – Spreading peace and religious tolerance in the US and Europe, the social experiment in which a blindfolded Muslim asks passersby to give him a hug has reached New York, Sweden and Norway.
“It is a first step in helping educate people that not all Muslims are ‘bad people’ and a reminder for radical Muslims as well that if we want to defend Islam, we should do so in a way Islam teaches, not with acts of violence [which are] forbidden in Islam,” creator of the project told CBC.
Standing blindfolded, arms outstretched, waiting for hugs on a busy street corner, Muslims who took part in the experiment wondered if anyone would come.
“I’m a Muslim. I’m labeled a terrorist. I trust you, do you trust me? Give me a hug,” a sign beside him read.
The experience was part of a social experiment to test feelings towards Muslims after recent attacks and politicians talks about fighting terrorism.
A few months after the first experiment in Canada’s Toronto, New York-based YouTuber Karim Metwaly adopted the idea of the video and applied in his city.
Meanwhile, similar videos were produced in Sweden and Norway.
“Anyone could have punched him, or hurt him. It was really nice to see people being nice,” Khan told The Huffington Post Canada.
“We put a blindfold on so he couldn’t see, it could have been anyone hugging him. We were open to anyone.”
The New York version of the experiment was praised by people there.
“That’s pretty good activism you’re doing here, man,” one man said
“I’m Muslim too, peace be upon you,” says another.
Muslims in Europe have facing soaring Islamophobic attacks since Paris attacks last january that left 17 killed, including 2 Muslims.
Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.
Later on, French Muslims called for criminalizing insulting religions amid increasing anger around the Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish new cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).