This young woman protected another by standing up to those trying to attack her.
Despite the failures and condemnation of the Nazi party in the mid-twentieth century, there is a new generation inspired by the current political climate that is turning to a neo-Nazi, far-right ideology and is resulting in tons of protests popping up every weekend around the world. While there are plenty in America at this time, likely because of Trump’s presence, there are also plenty of notable demonstrations happening around the world as well.
One such demonstration was held by the English Defence League (EDL), a self-described “human rights organisation” that promotes their agenda primarily through street protests, has been described by others as anti-Islam and the group itself concedes that their concern is that Islam “challenges an English, Christian way of life.”
Though it’s fair that anyone would be against Muslim extremists, the group has moved from protesting against radicals to inciting violence at every one of their protests because regular British Muslim citizens attend as a form of counter-protest. Their demonstrations have even been banned because cities don’t want to deal with the threat to public safety or the cost of sending hordes of law enforcement officials there, which ranges from $300,000 to $1 million.
One such incident that could have turned to physical violence began when members of the EDL surrounded a Muslim woman and were screaming at her. That’s when 25-year-old Saffiyah Khan stepped in to help the woman and an iconic photo was taken of her standing up to an EDL member, however unorthodox her bravery might be.
“Sometimes it’s more important to smile than to shout,” Khan said in a follow-up interview with BBC.
Despite her peaceful resistance to the man who appears to be held back from punching her, there is video and photo evidence later of Khan being removed from the demonstration. Whether the man was removed as well is unclear.
In response, the leader of the EDL called Khan a “disrespectful witch” because she allegedly was among people shouting during the minute of silence for the victims of the terror attack in Stockholm and Westminster. Khan said that there is even video evidence that there was no such minute of silence occurring while she was there and that anyone who knows her knows she would never do that.
The woman that she was defending, Saira Zafar, was able to meet with Khan afterwards for a joint interview and properly thank her. Zafar revealed some of the things that the EDL protestors were doing to her prior to Khan’s intervention, such as wrapping an EDL flag around her head and face while others shouted racist profanities at her. Zafar was holding a sign that said, “No to Islamophobia, No to War,” and planned on standing in the back when the men encroached upon her. Khan said she observed the violence for several minutes before stepping in because the police were not responding.
“I wasn’t going to let someone who was speaking the truth and being replied to aggressively be put in that position. You didn’t look like you wanted to be there and I have an intrinsic problem with that,” she said in an interview with Zafar and The Guardian.
Khan’s photo has since gone viral, as people send their messages of support and encouragement to this young woman who stood up for others and did so with a smile rather than violence.