About the project:
Project Title: The Silence of ‘Others’
My project aims to document the experience of young Muslims and through this, reveal how social, political and economic factors are fueling the alienation of Muslim youth in France.
For over two years now, I have been documenting the impact of religious prejudice and stereotyping on young Muslims in America and England. I have shared stories of many Muslims who experienced physical or verbal assaults and are struggling with a psychosocial crisis. I wish to expand my research to France and further document evidence of how factors like ethnic profiling, religious discrimination, poverty, housing issues and high unemployment contribute to the disaffection of young Muslims.
The French Interior Ministry estimates the French Muslim population to be around 6 million; the largest in Western Europe. France favors integration of diverse communities and views itself as an inclusive nation with universal values. But as Dr. Trica D. Keaton’s multi-year research on Muslim girls in France reveals there are “fundamental contradictions between that highly abstracted notion of universalism and the lived reality of ethnic distinction and racialized discrimination against people of non-European origins and color.”
Though problems of a multicultural France have complex origins, identity politics and media bias have conjured up suitable ‘Others’ whom the public is taught to fear and blame. These ‘Others’ are Muslims. Events like the 9/11, 7/7, the French riots in 2005 and the recent killings in Toulouse amplify public fears and encourage religious intolerance.
Political rhetoric often accuses Islamic beliefs and culture for the alienation of Muslim youth in France. But research organizations, like Open Society Foundation, have highlighted other institutional and social disadvantages that torment young Muslims in France and encourage discontent amongst them. I wish to photograph stories of young Muslims and explore how these factors, aside from religion, are shaping their awareness of themselves and their external world.
Focusing on Paris and Marseille, I’ll conduct in-depth interviews and photograph Muslim youth in their homes and on the streets. I will photograph their activities, behaviors, emotions, opinions, personal spaces and external interactions. I will document their lived experiences and the impact of these experiences on their thoughts and actions.
My work will provide young Muslims with a medium to share why they feel alienated in their own country. The Getty Images grant will enable me to reach out to them, photograph their lives and bring forth an in-depth understanding of the Muslim youth in France.
My work does not aim to provide justifications for violence. But as a non-Muslim, I believe it is important to also dissect the problem from the perspective of a Muslim mind. My photographs aim to encourage an open public conversation between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the absence of this necessary conversation, we can never identify the real systemic causes behind the alienation of young Muslims. I want my photographs to suggest how young Muslims can be dissuaded from adopting an isolationist or radical approach and how they can be encouraged to achieve personal and collective goals.
About the recipient:
Bharat Choudhary is a freelance documentary photographer originally from India who spent 14 years living in Nigeria as a child. He is currently based in London, England.
Photography has been a longtime passion for Bharat. Life took a turn one day when his father gave him two cameras as a gift and it was then he knew that photography is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
After receiving a degree in Forestry Management from the Indian Institute of Forest Management in Bhopal, he spent five years working with CARE India in Ahmedabad beginning in 2002, on issues of rural poverty and education.
He later returned to his photography studies, where his skills were shaped through a mentorship with photographer Raghu Rai of Magnum Photos at the Sri Aurobindo Centre in New Delhi. In 2008 he was awarded the Ford Foundation International Fellowship to study at the University of Missouri in the United States, where he also worked for the Columbia Missourian newspaper and received an M.A. in Photojournalism in 2010.
His work has been published in TIME Magazine, the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The National, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, La Repubblica, Sunday Times Magazine, and The Sunday Guardian, among others.
He has received numerous awards, grants and scholarships during his career which are detailed on his personal website: www.bharatchoudhary.com