Selfies to combat prejudice against Islam

SHAFAQNA – When around forty anti-Muslim protesters crushed the gates of Islam Expo in the Belgium city of Antwerp a young Muslim woman decided to take action to reject their hostility, taking off her camera to take peace selfies.

Zakia Belkhiri, 22, was at Antwerp’s third annual Muslim Expo during the weekend when around 40 members of Vlaams Belang, a far-right Belgian political party, gatecrashed the event, Huffington Post reported on Wednesday, May 18.

They brought with them an array of signs bearing anti-Muslim slogans such as ‘no headscarves’, ‘no mosques’ and ‘stop Islam’.

Facing their hostility, Belkhiri grabbed her cell phone and posed for a selfie in front of the protesters, while making a peace sign with her fingers.

The images, shot by Jurgen Augusteyns, went viral after they were published in Vice.

Augusteyns said one of Vlaams Belang demonstrators admonished Belkhiri and told her that according to Islam, it is forbidden to use a cellphone.

“Zakia just laughed at her and told her she should properly learn about Islam before stating such nonsense,” he told El Pais.

The young Muslim woman has been applauded for her actions on Twitter, with users describing her as “fearless” and a “hero”.

“#Fearless: Zakia Belkhiri trolls an anti-Muslim demonstration w/ selfies & some serious shade #HERO #MashAllah,” one posted on Twitter.

“The woman is #ZakiaBelkhiri and — the response to her photos has been wonderfully encouraging. #EqualityAndDiversity,” another added.

“22-year-old Zakia Belkhiri spreading peace and love at the Flemish right-wing Islamophobic protest in Antwerp,” a post on twitter read.

Islamophobia has been on open display in far too many Western societies, especially in the wake of attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels.

Though the actions of a few extremists do not represent the 1.6 billion Muslims across the world,
Muslims are the primary victims of hate and terrorism.

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