No matter how good of a person you are, no matter how successful you are—there will always be people who hate you for a single aspect of who you are. How we deal with these haters reveals a lot about us as people. So while some people might run and hide from cyberbullies, politician and human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid has witty and creative ways of dealing with internet trolls.
Rashid, a Muslim US Democrat running for Congress, was harassed on Twitter by somebody who posted a photo of bacon. The politician hilariously turned things in his favor by joking that it’s actually milk chocolate that offends Muslims. And somebody ended up sending Rashid a massive box of chocolate. We call that an all-round win!
Rashid told Bored Panda that he gets harassed online for being a Muslim on a daily basis and that he's in the process of tracking down his "secret choco champion." Scroll down for the rest of our interview with Rashid and for our in-depth chat with the CEO and Founder of Peace by Chocolate, Tareq Hadhad, whose chocolates the anonymous person sent Rashid.
"I have tried the chocolate and it is splendid. It's hard to choose a single favorite one but my kids sort of like all of them," Rashid told us. "My 11-year-old said, and I quote, 'Hershey's doesn't even compare, they should just retire now. Like, honestly, why do they even try when this kind of chocolate exists in the world?'"
Bored Panda asked Rashid whether he believes that humor and wit are the best ways to deal with haters. "Given my extensive and legendary dad joke persona, you might think I'd agree that humor is the best way forward, but I'm far too modest to make that conclusion," he said.
"So while humor and wit is a good step, I also believe the best way to deal with haters is patience, compassion, and if they insist on being ignorant, say peace and carry on with dignity. But for real I get death threats too so if they get violent I report them," he revealed.
Rashid added that the initial hate tweet was in response to his campaign for Congress. "I'm a human rights lawyer fighting with compassion through action for working families. If you want to channel your rage into results to uplift our neighbors, join our fight and let's get to work. Hit us up: firstname.lastname@example.org."
The politician’s story got quite a bit of attention on Twitter. More than 5.5k people like his post and over 800 of them retweeted the story. People congratulated Rashid on ‘winning’ and said that he ‘owned’ the bacon troll. Later on, it turned out that the "secret choco champion" ordered Rashid a box of goodies from Peace by Chocolate.
This isn’t the first time that Rashid was harassed online, however. In 2018, a man named Joseph Cecil Vandevere, aka DaDUTCHMAN5, threatened to kill him on social media by alluding that lynching is in store for him.
Vandevere turned himself in to the FBI and has been charged with issuing threats via interstate commerce. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison on June 2.
Rashid and his family immigrated to the US from Pakistan when he was a child. Among other reasons, they were running away from religious persecution. Rashid grew up to become a lawyer who supports survivors of domestic violence, immigrants, and healthcare and education non-profit organizations.
Now, Rashid is running for office in Virginia’s First Congressional District. He aims to return this district back “to the people.”
“Mr. Rashid has received one of our Mood Booster chocolate boxes that includes our top premium products with messages of welcome, harmony, peace of mind, resilience, 'peace' in different languages, 'forgiveness' in many sayings, and much more,” Hadhad told Bored Panda.
“We have been in contact with Mr. Rashid through all our social media platforms, in particular, Instagram and Twitter after he shared the sweet picture of him receiving the products. We are honored that our message has expanded far beyond the border. Our company started to focus on spreading peace through little and big acts of kindness because we lost our factory in Syria in a bombing during the war.”
Hadhad told us that, in his opinion, kindness begets kindness while hate and anxiety bring about more hate and anxiety. “It's the law of reciprocity. That's why, as a public speaker and spokesperson of our company, I am a huge fan of reducing tensions online and in reality through humor and fun.”
He continued: “Peace has many ways to build, share, and spread inside human connections, and humor is certainly an incredible way to deliver the message to the other side that their discrimination, hate, and intolerance make those hated and discriminated against stronger and way more connected to good people.”
Hadhad also went into detail about his company. He has shipped chocolate treats over the Middle East and Europe for nearly 30 decades. However, things radically changed with the advent of the Syrian civil war.
“Like much of our homeland, in late 2012, the original Hadhad family chocolate factory in Damascus was destroyed in a bombing that forced our family to leave everything behind and flee to Lebanon,” he said.
“For three years, we found ourselves as refugees with little opportunity or hope. Our lives had been forever altered and we dreamed of being able to once again live lives we could love. When our family was invited to Canada, our dreams came true. With the support of our new community of Antigonish and the people of Nova Scotia, we have rebuilt our chocolate company and are once again doing the work we love.”
Hadhad added that his company offers a wide range of services and products for anyone who’s a fan of delicious and fine chocolate.
“Our desire for excellence is apparent in every piece of chocolate we produce. We passionately combine a blend of Syrian fillings and ingredients, including nuts, fruit, and spices, creating a little taste of heaven in every sweet,” he described his chocolate works of art.
“Our company is considered more of a cause than a business. The major goal is to spread a taste of peace through each happy piece we make with love. Before tasting the chocolate, our customers get inspired by our main slogans “One Peace Won’t Hurt” and “Peace Is Beautiful In Every Language” that remind them of the backstory and how much we went through in the last several years to make these little pieces of happiness reach their hands. In each product we make, there is a very authentic symbolism of peace and love whether in each box, on each Peace bar or Pride bar.”
Hadhad pointed out that the chocolates that his company now creates are a blend of Syrian combinations and the ingredients that Canadians prefer. In September 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a speech that led to Hadhad becoming the face of new Canadian Syrians around the world.
“If you had asked me in December 2015 if I thought my family would have a successful Chocolate Factory that ships all over the world by 2017, I would have thought you were crazy. But look at us now. With the help of a welcoming community and an entrepreneurial drive that never fizzled out during the strain of war and displacement, we are happy that we have built a business to provide a new life for our family in Canada and provide employment opportunities to the community that welcomed us.”
The founder of Peace by Chocolate added that his company is on a mission to make sure that hatred, prejudice, and discrimination are all met with reality. “We are all equal and we share so much in common regardless of our ethnicity, background, faith, skin color, native tongue, and backgrounds. We are glad that Mr. Rashid's posts have revealed that there is good in the world. There is love, there is compassion, and there is a need for more peace and understanding.”