If people in your city witnessed Islamophobia in action, what would they do? Would they try to stop it?
These are exactly the questions one Muslim college group set out to answer. The Macquarie University Muslim Students Association (MUMSA), based in Sydney, Australia, hit the streets to film a "social experiment" in which an actor verbally assaulted Muslims in public. The group was interested to see how people would react when Islamophobia was played out in front of their eyes.
"To test how deeply entrenched Islamophobia was in wider society," Kamal Saleh, MUMSA member and director of the video, told HuffPost, "we set out to stage a social experiment in the middle of Hyde Park, Sydney to see how passersby would respond to an immediate 'Muslim-hate' attack occurring before them."
Australia has seen an uptick in negative feelings toward Muslims in the wake of the Islamic State and the government's anti-terror raids in Muslim communities. Saleh said this increase in Islamophobic attacks in Australia inspired the idea for the video.
"We know very well that [Islamophobia] does occur, and we've seen the drastic effects of it even more so following the recent media and political build up of hysteria against the Muslim community," Saleh told HuffPost. "However what this video does show is that Islamophobia is not welcome here."
As passersby witnessed the attacks, Saleh said, every one of them stepped in to confront the aggressor (played by fellow Macquarie University student Abir Hossain), often running after the victims (all actors) to offer comfort.
"The responses we got were amazing," MUMSA President Hannah El-Gashingi, who also played one of the victims in the video, told HuffPost. "I was very surprised by the results."
The message is not that Islamophobia doesn't exist, El-Gashingi and Saleh said. But the voices of hate should not drown out the voices of respect. Saleh explained:
"In almost every response captured, we see the common theme of acceptance, tolerance and respect being reiterated over and over again. These are the values that should make up the majority of Australian voices so that we can hopefully drown out the voices of bigotry and hatred."
MUMSA will be sharing the video on campus for Islamic Awareness Week, and Saleh invited people everywhere to take this opportunity to learn more about the religion.
"We encourage and invite all people to learn about the true values of Islam," Saleh said. "As a Muslim, I can wholeheartedly say that it is nothing short of inspirational to see so many Australians taking a stance against injustice with both their hands and their words."
Check out the hilarious strip Imgur user Toothless12 made of one particularly poignant moment in the video: