My good friend Eirini Vourloumis has work featured on The New York Times Lens blog today, “Adding Islam to a Latino Identity,” that includes 19 slides of Latino Muslim life in the New York suburbs. From her interview with Lens editor and New York Times staff photographer Jim Estrin:
Q. What got you started documenting Muslim life in America?
A.My interest in Islam began after the attacks of Sept. 11, as I was interested in how the event affected the daily lives of Muslims in New York. Personally, I was interested in exploring Islam because my mother’s family is Muslim, from Indonesia. Being raised in Athens and baptized Greek Orthodox, I was never exposed to the religion. I desired to learn more about my mother’s culture, using photography as my guide.
Q. Is it different being Muslim in America than in other countries?
A. The main difference is that in America, Muslim society does not have a homogeneous ethnic identity. There are communities of different cultures and backgrounds that embrace Islam. This creates an layered Islamic society where all voices of Islam are represented. In Indonesia, most Muslims live in the same moderate religious lifestyle within the same cultural framework.
It is challenging to live in the U.S as a Muslim. There is a heightened sense of Islamophobia, which can be aggravated by the general portrayal of Muslims in the media. Negative images of Islam — drawn from associations with fundamentalism and terrorism — have begun to marginalize Islamic communities, accentuating the prejudice that many Muslims face in their daily lives. This is why I believe it is important to document Islamic communities in the U.S., to simply show everyday life without focusing on politics or race.
Below, a few of my favorite frames from this series: