Robert Azzi is an Arab-American Muslim who grew up in Manchester, NH. After college, he embarked on a career as a photo journalist, traveling extensively throughout the Middle East and beyond photographing wars and conflicts wherever they occurred. Recent efforts to ban immigrants from Muslim countries from entering the United States compelled Azzi to begin a personal effort to share his faith with people interested to know more about Islam and the Muslim faith.
Azzi has been a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, a member of the Leadership Council of the Harvard Divinity School, an advisor to Tufts University’s Fletcher School committee on Islam and South-West Asia, and is a board member of ACLU-NH. In November, 2018 Azzi was honored as the recipient of the 2018 Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications’ First Amendment Award.
During his travels Robert Azzi has discovered that most people, even those critical of Islam and Muslims, when engaged in small scale or in one-one-one conversation, are willing to listen and engage with Muslims. His engagement occurs in what are perceived to be safe places: houses of worship, libraries, schools, civic organizations, etc. He speaks not as a scholar or academic but as neighbor, fellow citizen and person of faith.
Azzi’s travels throughout New England and beyond at the invitation of local communities. He speaks about his life, what it’s like to be Muslim in America, how he came to convert to Islam, about the religion of Islam and its history – especially in America – and about the Middle East, terrorism and associated political and social issues.
He states, “...While there’ll always be the odd person who will refuse to engage – or whose mind is closed to dialogue – the vast majority of people want to know who their neighbors are and what they believe. Most will, I believe – and my experience suggests – eventually come to understand that we’ve all been made diverse peoples so that we will come to know each other – And that to know each other we must reach out and talk to each other.
“Nothing is off the table… ”