As an American Muslim journalist, Aymann Ismail is used to receiving hateful messages online and in person about his religion.
Ismail, a video producer and editor for Slate, says that people have told him to his face that Islam is evil. When an act of terror is carried out by a Muslim abroad, the 27-year-old from Newark, New Jersey, said he’s often called upon to defend his faith.
If there’s one thing he’s learned from all these interactions, it’s that many Americans seem to be reacting in fear.
In an article for Slate, he writes, “I’ve come to believe that many Americans are motivated by fear. Fear that I’ll force women to cover themselves. Fear that they’ll be subject to Sharia law. Fear that I’d kill if given the chance.”
On Thursday, Ismail and fellow Slate video producer Jeffrey Bloomer debuted a new video series exploring Islam in America. In “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” Ismail actually seeks out anti-Muslim activists who are convinced that Islam is a religion that should be feared.
At the same time, Ismail turns a critical lens on American Muslims’ cultural practices ― such as how Muslim communities treat queer people.