In just a few months, the Blind Trust Project, a video shot by three Toronto university students on a whim, has inspired activists to spread awareness against Islamophobia internationally.
The video shows a Muslim man standing blindfolded at Toronto's Dundas Square with signs that read: "I am a Muslim. I am labelled as a terrorist," and "I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug." As a result, several Torontonians offer hugs, smiles and words of kindness.
The project was most recently picked up by New York-based YouTuber Karim Metwaly. It has also been re-created in Sweden and Norway.
Maaz Khan, who created the initial video in partnership with Mustafa Mawla and Asoomii Jay, says the idea to blindfold Mawla and ask for hugs came to them while shooting another video. They decided to carry it out, not knowing what to expect.
"Anyone could have punched him, or hurt him. It was really nice to see people being nice," Khan told The Huffington Post Canada.
Although Khan says the success of the video was unexpected, he's happy they've helped send a positive message of co-existence in a climate of Islamophobia. Events such as vandalism at an Alberta mosque, and more recently the Chapel Hill shooting and murder of an Iraqi immigrant in the U.S. have indicated discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in the west.
"We put a blindfold on so he couldn't see, it could have been anyone hugging him. We were open to anyone."
While Toronto's positive reaction to the experiment has caught the attention of media outlets worldwide, New Yorkers weren't far behind.
In the city's version of the video, Metwaly stands alone in Manhattan for a few minutes without response. But once the hugs begin, they keep on coming. Watch the heartwarming video above.
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