SEABROOK, New Hampshire – Touring New England to advocate for public awareness of Muslim culture, a Muslim photojournalist will hold his “Ask A Muslim Anything” conversation Thursday evening in Seabrook, New Hampshire.
“It sort of has a life of its own now,” Robert Azzi, a Muslim photojournalist from Exeter, told Newburyport Daily News on Thursday, October 11.
“I go to schools, churches, synagogues, retirement communities. I’m having a really good time doing it. In many places, many people haven’t met a Muslim or haven’t had time to engage with a Muslim or get to know what Muslims believe.”
In the event held Thursday evening at Seabrook Public Library, Azzi is inviting not only Seabrook residents, but people from Greater Newburyport to ask questions about Islam and its culture.
Azzi started his program “Ask A Muslim Anything,” with the hope of diminishing misunderstanding among those who practice different religions.
He said he often gets questions about women, Jesus, the Quran, terrorism and the differences between Christianity and Islam.
Over the past two years, Azzi traveled across New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He recently visited New York and plans to go to Connecticut in the near future.
The program helped Azzi to correct many misconceptions about American Muslims, confirming that Muslims have been in the country for more than 400 years.
About 25 percent of Muslims, he added, entered the US as slaves, noting they have been both victims and perpetrators of terrorism in the same way as other religious groups.
“That’s what people want to know about; they want to know if it’s something endemic to Islam or if it’s people acting outside of Islam,” he said.
“I tell them, for example, I would never judge Christianity on the basis of the background of the Ku Klux Klan who use the Old Testament to justify their racism. You need to be a little bit more open on what it is people are using in Orlando and San Bernardino on a justification for their violence.”
In recognition of his efforts, Azzi is the 2018 Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications’ First Amendment Award recipient, which is given to one Granite State resident each year.
He will be recognized at the school’s 16th annual honors event on Nov. 15 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. He was nominated by New Hampshire residents for his “Ask A Muslim Anything” project.
“I’m not there to convert or convince anyone,” he said.
“I basically do this because I want to confirm that all Americans, regardless of faith, tradition, religion or race, have a voice in the American public square.”