Islamophobia: how DU got it right

Islamophobia is a prominent issue being faced on college campuses across the country. In the wake of unprecedented terrorist attacks, when the tenets of terrorism are being muddled with mainstream Islam by even our presidential candidates, DU has succeeded in educating its community and providing a more welcoming environment for all students.

In my photographs, I strive to convey the positive experience of Muslim students such as my interview subject, Samiha, at DU. I took the photographs of Samiha in front of recognizable campus landmarks to make them as unique to our campus as possible. Additionally, I included a photo of a poster in Sturm, the location of the vandalized poster, to give viewers a sense of how noticeable said message was to commuting students and professors. Finally, I took a plethora of photos of the Denver Islamic Society to shine light on the Muslim Community within the greater area of Denver.

In capturing photos at the Denver Muslim society, my greatest challenge was that visitors objected to having their photos taken and thus I was unable to get as many pictures with people as I wanted. Aside from that, this assignment challenged me to be more contemplative about the pictures I took and chose. I thought more about what I included in the photos, what angles I took them from and where my light source was. Ultimately, this reflection allowed me to experiment more and take a greater variety of pictures.

Most prominent of the problems I had was the limited capacity of my phone to take high quality pictures; the main thing I wish I had done differently is checking out a DSLR so I could have had control over more aspects like exposure and a preview of depth of field and ended up with photos of higher quality overall. What I think worked well in my photos, conversely, were the different angles I used; I think in this respect, my phone worked to my advantage because since it’s handheld I can so easily experiment with positioning.

My slideshow provides a visual link to my issue story, literally offering viewers the face of someone who has been the victim of Islamophobia and who recognizes its absence on the DU campus. Furthermore, it attempts to convey the beauty and sense of community inherent in the Islam religion with photos of a local place of worship. Researching this subject permitted me to see what a world-wide affliction this prejudice has become. It was astounding to me that so many people continue to displace their fear of terrorism onto all Muslims; by that same token, I felt so proud that a practicing Muslim has experienced no fear or prejudice in her nearly two years at DU. Going into my issue story, after hearing the account about the poster and finding so many reprehensible stories about Islamophobia on college campuses on the internet, I thought my interview with Samiha would paint a much more unflattering picture of my school. However, as soon as I’d finished my issue story, I came to realize that this is not a problem at all at DU and that my hopes and efforts to improve it should instead be focused outside of this community.

2 Responses to Islamophobia: how DU got it right

  • Anna Walsh
    Anna Walsh says:

    This is an extremely important topic. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is a prevalent issue across the globe, especially on college campuses. The photos of the woman you interviewed, Samiha, are crucial to the photo essay and really give a face to the issue.

    Also, the photos of the Denver Islamic society help to move the essay along and provides further context. I had no idea an institution such as that one even existed. Your essay did a really good job of explaining the topic and commenting on how DU handles the issue.

  • Adam Glasser
    Adam Glasser says:

    This topic is incredibly relevant, its a major policy point in the current presidential election cycle, and students helping to combat Islamophobia is incredibly important. Personally i didn’t even know that there was a Muslim student’s association

    I like how you used various distances and angles to keep the viewer interested, and weren’t just shooting the same photo in different locations. Your text blurbs were super informative and interesting as well.

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