A Muslim immigrant’s personal journey exploring religiosity, racism and hate across the US.
Featuring: Amr Alfiky
United Photo Industries
James Estrin and David Gonzalez, Co-Editors New York Times Lens Blog
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The recent presidential election has thrust American Muslims into the limelight. They are scrutinized as if under a microscope, yet portrayed in a simplistic and stereotypical manner.
American Muslims are seen as either idealized citizens—such as the Gold Star parents, the Khans—or demonized extremists. This dichotomy was brought to the forefront of the election when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” and the Clinton campaign utilized the narrative of the Khan family to emphasize the ‘Americanness’ of Muslims.
In the last year, there has been a spike of hate crimes against Muslims in America and 35 mosques have been attacked.
When I first arrived to the US, my attempt to become invisible was unsuccessful. As someone who was not particularly religious, my experiences throughout the US constantly reminded me of my ‘Muslimness’ and ‘Arabness.’ Whether I liked it or not, in the American collective mind, I belonged to a larger group that I wasn’t particularly aware of. I became a walking image of a preconceived group that I never thought I belonged to. This forced identity sparked a religious and personal journey through these communities that I recently became a part of.
Amr Alfiky is an Egyptian documentary photographer and filmmaker based in New York City. He studied medicine at Alexandria University in Egypt and assisted as a field medic during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Shortly afterward, he began photographing and in 2013, Amr co-founded one of Egypt’s prominent visual arts studios, Janaklees for Visual Arts.
He moved to the US in 2014 due to the ongoing crackdown of activists and photojournalists, and began documenting the lives of fellow Egyptian immigrants. Amr’s work documenting the Muslim American experience in the US has been featured in Reuters, The New York Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Huffington Post and other major international publications.
In 2017, he was selected to participate in The New York Portfolio Review, Eddie Adams Workshop and the Missouri Photo Workshop. Beside his work as a photojournalist, Amr was a Programs Intern at the Magnum Foundation and also worked as a teacher’s assistant with Fred Ritchin, the Dean of the International Center of Photography School. He is currently a student at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.