The Silence of Others: Exploring Islamophobia Through Images

© Bharat Choudhary / The Alexia Foundation
© Bharat Choudhary / The Alexia Foundation
Members of a role-play team after their act at a local community event in London, on June 26, 2011. The play explored many problems that young Muslims face (right) and how they can live a better life by following the examples of ancient Islamic leaders (left).

“Osama! Osama!”— yelled a pair of complete strangers, as photographer Bharat Choudhary walked to his apartment from the University of Missouri campus in 2009, where the photographer was pursuing a Master’s degree in photojournalism. Islamophobia is a personal issue for Choudhary, who is an Indian Hindu.

“I had a big beard at that time,” adds Choudhary, who used the incident as inspiration for his current project, which documents Muslim life in the United States and England. Titled The Silence of Others, the series captures similar situations and their effects on the project’s participants, as well as the lives of young Muslims and the communities to which they belong.

Choudhary traces the origins of the idea back to his time as a student in India, where he worked with CARE India in Ahmadabad in 2004. The organization provided rehabilitation to victims of ethnically charged violence, who lost limbs or were paralyzed in the 2002 riots in the Indian state of Gujarat. The images he saw there formed an experience that Choudhary says “will always be there with me.”

He began working on the project in the Midwest, where he documented stories in small towns across Missouri and Illinois, as well as larger cities like Chicago. Choudhary is continuing the second phase of the project in England, broadening the geographic reach of the body of work and expanding it as a platform to help Muslims and non-Muslims understand each other.

Though the growing body of work represents a variety of life stories—a Missouri couple’s efforts to establish the state’s first Mosque, a Caucasian woman’s conversion to Islam and the development of Muslim communities in Chicago, London and elsewhere—Choudhary says he has found similar themes of alienation and ostracism of his “Others” on both sides of the Atlantic. But it’s precisely the challenge of breaking through their silence that captivates Choudhary and pushes him to continue the project.

“It’s finding the right kind of people who would be willing to talk and be photographed—that is one thing that keeps me awake all night,” Choudhary says. “It’s been quite an interesting journey so far.”

Bharat Choudhary is a photographer based in London, England. The Silence of Others is currently supported by a grant from the Alexia Foundation for World Peace and Cultural Understanding. Select images are on display at “Moving Walls 19,” an exhibition opening at the Soros Foundation in New York on Dec. 1.

Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Mg Ko, 20 years old. A Shan farmer with his cow in Lui Pan Sone Village. Kayah State.

Transforming Lives in Burma, One Solar Panel at a Time

In Burma, where only a quarter of the population has access to electricity, solar panels can change lives, as Spanish photographer Ruben Salgado Escudero found out

Read More
Diana Walker—Contour by Getty Images for TIME

An Intimate Portrait of Hillary Clinton in Photographs

LOVED ONE LOST:NAME: Jabril BradleyAGE: 20DOB: 10/6/1990SEX: MaleDATE OF DEATH: 9/1/2011TIME: After MidnightLOCATION: 9th st and Ave of the States, Chester, PACIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO MURDER: Bradley was riding his bike home from a friend’s house on the east side of Chester, September 1, 2011, when an unknown gunman opened fire. He was struck in the back once and continued to ride his bike home. A number of blocks later he collapsed to the ground from blood loss. He bled to death on the street. Bradley’s family claim that he was shot because of mistaken identity. According to his mother, Bradley was supposed to still be in prison. He was serving a sentence for possession of a controlled substance and was allegedly released before his time was up. Within weeks of his murder, the FBI came looking for Bradley at his mothers house, claiming that he got released by mistake. IN PHOTOGRAPH:NAME OF FAMILY MEMBERS: Sister to Jabril Bradley: Danita Harris, 30.Son to Danita Harris: Jah’lil Harris, 3.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 23, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,628 other followers