A Facebook campaign tried to organize pickets at dozens of mosques across the United States last October 10. Members of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Columbus, OH, received police protection, but only one protester showed up, a woman called Annie. Even though Annie was carrying two signs denigrating Islam, members invited her inside for coffee and bagels, but she firmly refused. Then a member of the mosque, newlywed Cynthia DeBoutinkhar, asked Annie an unexpected question. Could she hug her? Annie reluctantly agreed, and Cynthia recalled, "I felt her body go from tense to soft, and asked her to please come inside with me." Annie agreed to enter the lobby, where they were welcomed with applause.
Photo by Micah David Naziri
While touring the mosque, Annie admitted she learned to fear Islam from watching Fox News. She asked questions about the faith which the mosque president gladly answered, giving her an English copy of the Quran. She and Cynthia talked for two hours, and before leaving Annie told her, "I had no idea Muslims could be so nice to me, even after I stood out there with those signs. Sorry."