The United States prides itself as being a melting pot of cultures, but underneath the surface lies evidence of an apparent unease of "others" — particularly if those others happen to have darker skin, wear Islamic garb, or speak a foreign language.
Islamophobia, in particular, has spiked in recent years. Mosques have been burned, Muslims are increasingly targeted on the streets, and anti-Islam rhetoric is growing louder and more disturbing. Even seeing the word "Allah" in a text message has led people to jump to potentially precarious conclusions.
But many Muslims are setting out to challenge people's preconceived notions about their faith. One particularly creative tactic was shared by Germany-based journalist Nader al-Sarras from a Berlin metro recently.
Al-Sarras shared a picture of someone carrying a tote bag with Arabic script on it. It read, according to al-Sarras, "This text has no other purpose than to terrify those who are afraid of the Arabic language."
The bag, as someone in the comments section revealed, is from a company based in Haifa, Israel, called Rock Paper Scissors, run by Palestinians Sana Jammalieh and Haitham Charles Haddad.
Though clearly meant to poke fun at people who reflexively associate the complex, vivid, historically significant language with terrorism, the bag also exposes how familiar many Muslims are with their culture being dangerously misconstrued.
A Plus has reached out to Rock Paper Scissors for comment.