Ramadan through camera phones around the world
New York-based filmmaker Bassam Tariq shares the most beautiful images from his story project, 30Days/Ramadan, where photos from the Muslim holy month of Ramadan reveal that media stereotypes of Muslims aren't nearly as colorful or interesting as snapshots from within the community.
To celebrate the end of Ramadan, I made my way to one of the few local coffee shops in my hometown of Sugar Land, Texas. While I was ordering my drink, I couldn’t help but notice the front page of the Houston Chronicle, the city’s largest newspaper on display.
It featured a photograph of a dim-lit and somber pre-teen wearing the hijab (the Islamic headscarf) with the headline reading, “After reflection, a celebration.”
It’s hard not to be a little offended by the laziness of the photo editor. Perhaps the photographer missed the ritual hugs, the laughter, the jaw-dropping diversity, or the thousands of kids running around the Reliant Center. Any of those might have done a better job in illustrating “celebration.”
But I don’t buy it.
Photo editors have consistently dismissed the richness of the Muslim experience and simplified it three overused visual clichés: burkas, protests, and men praying with their butts in the air. Ironically, the latter was the smaller photo below on that front page.
I would hate to call our latest crowdsourced story project, 30Days/Ramadan, a reaction to this pigeonholing. It’s more about Muslim communities around the world taking ownership over their stories.
We (Musa Syeed, an award-winning independent filmmaker, and myself) weaved together user-generated content from Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr tagged with #30days or #ramadan.
The result is a fascinating and intimate portrait of the homes, mosques, and lives of Muslims around the world, joined by the month in fasting, prayer, and family gatherings.
We shied away from the glossiness of professional cameras. There is an emotional rawness in mobile photography that immediately draws us into hands and eyes of the photographer.
And now that the project is in its last hours, I wanted to share some of my favorite moments from all that we have curated in these last 30 days.
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