Saturday, June 3, 2023
HomeentertainmentMovie News'Stranger at the Door' EP Malala Yousafzai on Entertainment's 'Revealing the Power...

'Stranger at the Door' EP Malala Yousafzai on Entertainment's 'Revealing the Power of Our Common Humanity' (Guest Post)

People often ask me why I, an education and women’s rights activist, make movies and TV shows. That’s because I believe in the power of entertainment to connect people — whether it’s in the living room or across the world.

I see it in my own life. Growing up in Pakistan, I was aware of the high tension between our government and Indian leaders. But that didn’t stop us from falling in love with Bollywood movies and falling in love with actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. When we moved to England, my mum didn’t speak English. But she finds she can laugh with her English neighbors at Mr Bean’s physical comedy. In Oxford, I spent too much time with my friends watching The Big Bang Theory or Rick and Morty.

Stories have the power to reveal our common humanity and connect people across cultures, religions and countries. They can also teach us to know ourselves, which is the first time I saw A Stranger at the Door , a short documentary nominated for this year’s Academy Awards.

The film tells the story of a man named Richard “Mike” McKinney who decides to bomb a local mosque in Muncie, Indiana. After a 25 year career in the United States Marine Corps, he suffered from PTSD and left with no purpose in life. During combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mack’s commanders encouraged him to dehumanize his targets. So when his young daughter told him about a hijab-wearing woman picking her son up from school, he felt compelled to protect his family from the “enemy” — their Muslim neighbor.

In the film, Mac recounts building an IED and conducting reconnaissance missions to a small red brick mosque. There, he met Saber and Bibi Bahrami, an Afghan couple who came to Mansi, 1980 as refugees, established a thriving medical practice and co-founded a mosque. Saber welcomes Mac and invites him to join the fellowship of the congregation. Sitting next to him, Bibi asks Mac about his life and his family.

Over the next few weeks, Mac continued to visit the mosque, meeting the men, women and children who worship there. Sensing he had purpose, Bibi asked him to lead meetings, participate in prayers, and even stand at the door as a security guard. Then, after the FBI raids his home, the congregation learns the truth: Mac is planning to murder them.

Rather than recoil in fear and disgust, or throw him out, Bibi invites Mac to Bahrami’s for dinner, a traditional Afghani meal of chicken, homemade bread, Rice, eggplant, etc. When they had dinner, she had only one question: “What were you thinking, Brother Richard?”

Your initial reaction may be the same as mine: Non-Muslims need to get over their fear of fear Our community and self-education islam. But the documentary goes beyond that—it calls each of us to consider our shared humanity.

Today, wherever we look, we see people who stand up for what they believe so strongly that they can justify hate for someone else’s. This hostility is not limited to one race, religion or belief, one country or conflict, one political party or social movement, one gender or one generation.

As Bibi recently wrote in the Washington Post, “We live in an age where people no longer talk to those who have a different opinion. … If we continue down this path, we will never understand each other, never find our common humanity, never have peace.”

I have experienced uncontrolled possible damage from splitting. At the age of , I was shot in the head for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban banning girls’ education. The attackers were not white soldiers like Mike. He was a young man, not much older than me, a Muslim in our community. He, like many others, was led to believe that his narrow view of the world was correct. His Islam is better than mine. The roles of women and girls that he embraces are roles that we should all be compelled to live up to.

When people ask me what I would say to the man who shot me, I tell them I will forgive him. I know how destructive anger, revenge and hatred can be. I will always choose love.

says “Be kind to people who are different from you. Forgive people who hurt you.” But people like Bibi have spent years developing compassion in their hearts. Over time, they learn to be receptive, not passive. They practice acceptance, not alienation.

They do it because they know it works. In the film, Mack says Bibi and others at the mosque showed him “true humanity” and changed his life. He found a community and even served as rector of a mosque for two years. He, too, has found purpose—and today he travels the country telling his story and helping others move from hatred to understanding.

At various stages in their lives, both Bibi and Mac need help. The Bahrami family may not have survived without the Muncie community that welcomed Afghan refugees in the 1980 years. Without the Bahrami family, Mike could have killed dozens of innocent people. Without Mac, someone struggling with hatred and anger today may never have heard that it is possible to forgive and live a life of love.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll see the Stranger at the Door and begin to understand Mac and Bibi’s life-saving Message: Believing that people can change — and are willing to change themselves — is our greatest hope for a better life in the world.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter Magazine in the February issue. To receive this magazine, click here to subscribe .



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS