There are many recent "social experiment" videos showing average citizens' candid responses to public injustice -- but they rarely end with one of the subjects getting punched squarely in the face. In a new video by 18-year-old York University student Omar Albach, that's just what happened, as his attempt to show Canadians standing up for the rights of a harassed Muslim man in the wake of the Ottawa terror attack proved to be a little too successful.
Albach, who has shot similar activist videos in the past, staged his latest experiment by filming fellow student Zakaria Ghanem waiting for a bus in traditional Muslim clothing, while actor Devin Giamou berates him with overtly racist statements.
The reactions from Canadians surrounding the men are immediately supportive of Ghanem, with more than one person calling him a friend or saying, "He's with me." Others offer thoughtful and heartwarming defenses of religious freedoms and condemn Islamophobic stereotyping with lines like, "You can't judge people by their clothes or their nationalities or anything else, you know what I mean?"
But the video takes a turn when Albach's crew comes across a couple of dart-smoking Canadians who let Giamou know that "If we got a problem bud, then we can go upstairs and deal with it." Shortly after that exchange Giamou gets sucker-punched in the face by one of the men, who continue to advance on him as he pleads, "It's a social experiment!"
The video was shot in the steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, which was also the home to Nathan Cirillo, the soldier killed in the Ottawa attack. Creator Omar Albach told the CBC that he felt he needed to make the video after the murder of Cirillo, and that his video helps prove that Canadians don't see actions of the suspected shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a convert to Islam, as reflective of Muslims in general.
As for the two guys who turned the experiment violent, Albach explained that once they learned the details of the situation, they were quick to say sorry, as is Canadian custom.