So he asked his friend to take a picture of her as she flashed a crouching smile in front of them.
"I really wanted to honestly fight their hatred," Ismaa eel, 24, told CNN via Instagram. "I wanted them to see my face and just walk around wasn't enough."
Ismaa eel, who works as a therapist with children on the autistic spectrum in the DC area, published the photo on Instagram along with a quote from Prophet Muhammad who read: "Kindness is a sign of faith, those who they are not kind have no faith. "
The image became viral on the image sharing platform, with over 100,000 "likes" and on Twitter, where it enjoyed more than 150,000 times.
"On April 21st, I smiled in the face of bigotry and came out feeling the greatest form of realization," he wrote in a tweet accompanying the photo.
Ismaa eel told CNN that he noticed protesters for the first time on Saturday, the second day of the convention, adding that most people were very upset by their presence and didn't seem to know how to react. He said some teenagers tried to get close to men, but most people went by without giving them attention.
For his part, Ismaa eel said he continued to think about the protesters at the conference, which included sessions on various topics including the Koran, the life of Muhammad, the lessons from the Christchurch shooting, and so on.
The following day, after having seen them leaving the main building, he asked his friend Jamilah to take a picture.
"My face was brightly illuminated when I saw them," he said. "I walked on while they continued to scream their hateful speech, I asked the police officer if I could stand on the sidewalk in front of the men, the officer said" no "and at that moment I felt the bigger rebel ".
"I smiled so hard in the picture and the man started to direct his speech towards me. Silly things like" your face should be covered "," And you know it's a cult when you walk out wearing pajamas " .
Ismaa eel said it wasn't the first time she took a picture like this. "I posted a photo in 2017 when I was in college, it was basically the same message: smile in front of fanaticism," he added.
But she is still surprised at how much attention this image has received. "I am a low profile person, I am still shaken because he has reached more than 200 I like it to the fullest, it's good to see so many people supporting".
His mother sent a message when the post was 3.000 "I like it", exhorting: "Please be aware of your surroundings." "She is definitely nervous because it is clear that people in general are not the kindest, she constantly reminds me to pray for myself," said Ismaa eel.
His friends and family have suffered many cases of harassment or discrimination, he added. "Just this summer, my mother and her camp students have been discriminated against in a public swimming pool, so it certainly happens."
Fortunately, the therapist said that until now he had received no threat after the post. "My sister-in-law and my brother are patrolling my account for the most part, I had to take a step back because some of the comments are interesting and I keep telling myself not to entertain anyone."