I felt this story had to be told, not least because part of the story has already been told on Canadian Atheist.
A couple Weekly Updates ago, one of the items was about a remarkable Burger King campaign.
If you haven’t seen the video already, watch it now. It’s less than 3 minutes. You will not regret it. It’s funny; it’s revealing; it’s brilliant.
I want to draw your attention to the woman who first shows up at one minute, fifty-two seconds in. She’s one of the only two people shown actually going to the table of the “bullied” actor, and engaging – not just with the “victim”, but also the “bullies”. (The other was a black man, who was interviewed afterwards.) She asks the “victim” if he’s okay, strikes up a conversation with the “bully” to distract him, and even talks about her own experiences being bullied with the “victim”, all with poise and humour. And she’s half the size of the “bully”, never mind his “accomplices”.
Well, dig this: She’s a Canadian.
But that’s not even the best part. Because she’s also queer, of Pakistani heritage and…
… and this is going to cause bigots’ heads to explode all across Canada, and I’m lovin’ it (oh, wait, that’s McDonald’s isn’t it?)…
… she’s Muslim.
Her name is Fawzia Mirza, and she was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia. She worked as a lawyer for two years, but now she’s an actress* and activist working in sexual violence prevention. And yes, she’s a queer Muslim, and one of only 12% of people who stood up for a bullied kid. How many of you – especially you anti-Muslim bigots out there – would do that?
* Note: Fawzia Mirza is an actress, but she wasn’t working in the video. She was just a regular customer. In fact, she seems to have not noticed the “bullied burger” part of the shtick. So she’s not only one of the only 12% who stepped in to help the “bullied” kid, she’s one of the 5% who didn’t report the “bullied” burger.
But this story just keeps getting better and better. she was interviewed on CBC’s Q for playing “Ayesha Ali Trump”, a fictional Muslim daughter of Donald Trump in a mockumentary called The Muslim Trump Documentary. Oh, that’s just brilliant.
And right now, she’s promoting a new feature film that she co-wrote and stars in: Signature Move It’s about a Pakistani Muslim woman (Mirza) who finds love with a Mexican woman… through the medium of lucha libre, aka Mexican masked wrestling. Yes, seriously. I could not make this shit up.
Atheists are fond of saying one should criticize religion, not people. Whether that’s a sensible position or not, it’s the mantra many of us live by, so if it’s not just blowing smoke, then this is a perfect case for practising what we preach. Because while Islam certainly deserves criticism – as all religions do – what we have here is a person who deserves our respect and admiration. Atheists not blinded by bigotry and hatred of Islam should have no problem raising a toast to Fawzia Mirza. But bigots, well, this’ll surely piss them off… and of all the parts of this story that made me smile, that part has to be my favourite.
I’m giving Fawzia Mirza unreserved applause, both for her actions in the video, and for the career in activism behind it. Can you manage that too? Or is your hatred of Islam so strong you can’t even manage to give credit where it’s due to a woman who has shown that when it counts, she’s willing to stand up for those who need help, even at risk to herself.