Faces of Islam: A Documentary

Recently, Canadian award-winning documentary photographer Matt Palmer, 32, interviewed and photographed 41 Muslims living in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, for his online project, Faces of Islam.

For three days earlier this month he sat down with children, community workers, a lawyer, a doctor, an Indigenous elder from Thursday Island, and many others.

They shared stories and insights such as their journeys to Australia, the kind of music they listen to, and how they coped with the death of a loved one.

Palmer hopes the project will help demystify Muslim people by breaking down false stereotypes, and sharing common experiences.

After the Paris attacks last year there was a lot of misinformation going out in the public about Muslims,” Palmer said.

I just got sick of trying to argue with people or give them the correct information so I thought ‘what can I do as a photographer to help not just the Muslim community but the entire community and maybe show a different side to them that people may not have expected?’,” says Palmer.

From there, the idea was born, but it would take a few more months before it flourished into what it has become today.

Our goal was to have 20 to 30 people involved … it spread through word-of-mouth. People brought friends along with them [on the day], and the friends saw what was going on and thought the project was a great idea so they ended up getting involved as well,” Palmer adds.

Most of my questions were around just the everyday lives because I feel the project is about people who happen to be Muslim. I learned a lot of things, particularly that the Muslim people I talked to – compared to the rest of the people in my life – they’re very engaged in the community and helping people,” said Palmer who is a committed atheist.

Naseema Mustapha told me – Islam teaches about peace, harmony and respect of other religions and cultures. Islam talks about people coming together – it’s about bringing societies together, communities together. The Islam I know and the Islam the majority of Australians know are two different things. I would like Australians to see Islam the way I see it and how I practice it,” says Palmer.

Faces of Islam - Naseema

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