MONTREAL – Standing outside McGill’s Roddick gates Friday is a man, blindfolded and not moving a muscle.
That is, until someone comes to give him a hug or play a round of basketball with him.
Majdi Hareri is a Syrian-Canadian – a Muslim who came to Montreal when he was just 5-years-old.
He is next to a sign that reads: “I’m a Muslim, Syrian and Canadian, but I’m told that I’m a terrorist.”
The sign goes on to say: “Hug me, sing with me, dance with me, take a selfie with me, b-ball with me.”
“I really felt we have to do something because we’re aching as the Muslim community since the events on Friday,” Hareri told Global News.
“We’re aching and we want to open up to the community and display our trust. We trust the Canadian community and they trust us as well.”
He told Global News that when he heard about the attacks in Paris, he hoped it wouldn’t be tied to Muslims or Islam because he knew the backlash would be great.
“We’re all traumatized by the events since Friday and we’re trying to find ways to console one another and show love for one another,” said Hareri.
Hareri told Global News he knows he’s not the first person to do something like this, but he was touched by the number of people who went up to hug him or dribble a basketball with him (yes, he was still wearing the blindfold).
Hareri said that, though he has always felt stuck between identifying as a Syrian or a Canadian, he can now proudly say that he’s both.
He’s heading to Toronto this weekend to perform the same experiment with a group of friends.
Hareri volunteers his time for the Syrian Kids Foundation; proceeds support a school in Turkey that over 2,000 refugee children attend.