And as this heartwarming video footage shows, Canadians – who already have a reputation for being some of the world’s kindest people – didn’t let him down.
As Mustafa Mawla waited in Toronto’s busy Yonge-Dundas Square, his arms outstretched, several strangers moved forward to embrace him.
The video, which was posted on YouTube last week with the description: “We wish to break down barriers and spread awareness about Islamophobia”, has been viewed more than 770,000 times.
Assma Galuta, 24, came up with the idea for the ‘Blind Trust Project’ – and teamed up with production company Time Vision to carry it out.
“A lot of us have been made to feel like outcasts,” she told HuffPost. “Western-born Muslims have to deal with this identity crisis of trying to fit into Canadian culture, but hold on to their faith as well.”
She said that the purpose of the blindfold was for him to give “complete trust” and to show Canadian society that he feels like he’s part of the community.
“Blindfolded, anyone could harm him or feel very angered,” she added. And she said she was “very touched” that people responded so positively, rather than shouting Islamophobic obscenities.
“At the end of the day, it’s about co-existing,” she said.
In October 2014, a similar experiment, in which an actor posed as an Islamophobe after the Ottawa shooting, went terribly wrong. He was punched in the face but it served to show that Canadians are prepared to defend Muslims over racist abuse in the wake of a recent terror attack.