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Behind the shot: Why I had tears in my eyes

Commentary: Signs of peace from a Muslim demonstration had a profound effect on CNET's Andrew Hoyle while shooting tech's impact on Germany's refugee crisis.

This is part of our Road Trip 2016 summer series "Life, Disrupted," about how technology is helping with the global refugee crisis -- if at all.

I didn't expect to have tears in my eyes while on assignment in Munich. But that was before I saw a group of Muslim refugees holding signs of peace and hope.

I was in the city with my CNET colleagues, Shara Tibken and Katie Collins, taking a day off from my photography duties covering tech's impact on Germany's refugee crisis.

I wandered into a busy square surrounded by imposing buildings and spotted 14 men standing quietly in a line and holding signs. I walked over to take a closer look.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The signs were crudely made. The English wasn't great. But the messages were clear: They aren't in Munich to harm anyone; they're simply escaping the war zones their homes have become.

"Terror -- not in my name" read one sign. Another featured a passage of peace from the Quran, "Whoever kills an innocent person is as if he has killed all of humanity."

They were aware more than anyone that recent terror attacks across Europe have resulted in anti-Muslim sentiment. It's even caused countries -- such as Hungary and Macedonia -- to close their borders to refugees altogether.

Yet here these Muslim men stood.

They'd been here since the early morning, one told me, standing all day on a baking-hot Saturday in the middle of Munich, hoping to show the crowds that they're peaceful and that Muslim people do not need to be feared.

It seemed to be working. For 15 minutes I watched as passersby approach the men to talk, shake their hands and even give them a hug of reassurance. A few Germans even joined the line and held up their own signs of peace. At one point, a crowd of onlookers burst into applause. And that's when I noticed tears in the corners of my eyes.

It was heartening to see such an outpouring of support and welcoming when it would be easy for people to give in to fear and bias.

I don't think I can ever forget it.

See all the stories in our series Road Trip 2016: Life, Disrupted.