Arab-American Muslim Robert Azzi is a photojournalist and columnist based in Exeter. He has spent several decades working in and writing about the Middle East. A few years ago, Azzi began writing and speaking about Islam to dispel misconceptions about his faith and to create understanding.
Mr. Azzi has begun a current series of regional forums to offer a Muslim’s perspective to questions many may have with no reliable resource for answers. He feels that dialog is important to engender understanding. View a recent news segment filmed at RPL as NH-1 reporter Gail Huff Brown interviews Mr. Azzi about the forums here.
Questions range far and wide at each forum. For example, at a recent event Azzi was asked about the oppression of woman in Muslim countries, and if that comes from the religion of Islam.
“There are only two verses in the Quran that deal with a woman’s attire, or a person’s attire,” he said.
The first deals only with the wives of the Prophet, he said. The second deals with modesty, but is directed toward both men and women.
Azzi continued to explain centuries of patriarchal interpretation of Islamic scriptures which
more often than not, reinforced a gender bias.
Azzi said he would argue that the poor treatment of women comes from tradition and not from theology. But not all Muslim countries are like that, he added.
This is just a sample of the type of thoughtful and reasoned exchange attendees can expect at this program.
Azzi acknowledges not everyone is going to like his answers, but has said “I think when people are talking to each rather than shooting or throwing stones at each other, it’s always a step forward.”
Mr. Azzi’s column appears in the Keene Sentinel, the Concord Monitor and the Portsmouth Herald.