‘Shake my Hand’: Poem Dedicated to the Egyptian Olympian who Refused to Shake his Israeli Opponent’s Hand


by Hira Uddin

This poem is dedicated to Islam El Shehaby, the Egyptian Olympian who took a stand and refused a handshake offered by his Israeli opponent during a Judo match – it is not so much the handshake El Shehaby refused in my eyes; rather it is the refutation of what Israel and Zionist policies represent and implement around the world, directly impacting the innocent lives of millions around the globe. Many wish to criticize El Shehaby and judge his action by erasing the history and the tension that is so palpable in the Muslim world – but they were not in his position. This is for all those who take a stand against injustice and raise awareness for crimes against humanity; even if it is by just refusing a handshake.

“Shake my hand”
I say to you,
While I use the other to asphyxiate
the last breaths of hope in your people.

“Shake my hand”
I shriek at you,
as I use the other to poison
the fertile land belonging to your people.

“Shake my hand”
I shout at you,
while I use my legs to trample
on the bright future of your nation’s youth.

“Shake my hand”
I scream at you,
as I take a squat to defecate
on the bright, radiant faces of your beautiful people.

“Shake my hand”
I yell at you,
while I use my fingertips to carefully obliterate
the existence of your identity off the map.

“Shake my hand”
I screech at you,
as I attempt to smear
your noble reputation on this stage with the whole world watching.

So now I ask you,
“Why won’t you shake my hand?”
So now I ask the world,
“Did you see how he refused to shake my hand?”


hira uddinHira Uddin currently works as an Early Intervention Specialist. She is the editor of Inside American Mosques, a blog dedicated to fighting Islamophobia by educating others on what really happens in American Mosques.

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