Turning the Tables on Hate

How a California Muslim woman transformed a situation grounded in bigotry into a call for kindness

September 20, 2018

On September 10th, a local Southern California woman, Esma Ali, was stopped by Monrovia police while walking down the street. The police had received calls reporting a woman, matching her description, purportedly breaking into cars and stealing mail. Esma’s only “crime” was wearing a hijab. Rather than threatening legal action, Ali decided to hold a press conference and thank the police.

“What made me come here is because when it was all done, they really felt bad, and they empathized with me as if I were their sister,” Ali said. She wanted to thank them for “dealing with the situation with dignity and professionalism.”

MPAC President and Co-Founder, Salam Al-Marayati, had acted as a resource to Esma after the event had occurred, and joined her for the Press Conference along with 40 others. “A lot is based on misunderstanding.”

For the past few years, hate crime rates have been rising across the U.S. MPAC’s approach is to tackle the issue head on by engaging with law enforcement officials to ensure that perpetrators are dealt with appropriately and victims are heard. In order to do so, MPAC has been leveraging three decades of experience in government relations to, in due course, benefit the community.

Calling for greater education and understanding, Salam continued, “We are united against hate … Monrovia Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Muslim Public Affairs Council…”.

At the end of it all, we must rise above the misunderstanding, educate one another, and remind each other that we are united against bigotry.

Have you been the victim of or witnessed a hate crime? Here's what to do if it happens to you.

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