Aymann Ismail’s Muslim series confronts who’s afraid of Islam in America.

Aymann Ismail


I've Always Been Feared for Being Muslim. Now I’m Taking Those Fears Seriously, No Matter What.


I've Always Been Feared for Being Muslim. Now I’m Taking Those Fears Seriously, No Matter What.

Confronting fears about Muslims.
June 29 2017 10:33 AM

Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?

My whole life, people have feared me for being Muslim. Now I’m confronting those fears where they live—in the alt-right and in my own community.

At the Republican National Convention last summer, I planned to shoot some photos and video. But just after landing in Cleveland, as I waited in line to get in, a man in full Thomas Jefferson costume approached me and asked: “Are you Muslim?” I told him yes. He told me Islam was evil.

I’m used to this: People openly stared when I photographed the new World Trade Center being built on assignment in Manhattan. They weren't the first. But in Cleveland, when I talked to people—really talked to them—I could tell meeting a real Muslim face to face made some kind of impact.


I’ve come to believe that many who speak out against Muslims 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. So I’m going to confront those fears, one by one. In “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” a new Slate video series, I’m going to meet with anti-Muslim activists, state legislators, and my own family to find out if there really is anything to fear about American Muslims.

—Aymann Ismail

The series is written and produced by Aymann Ismail and Jeffrey Bloomer, and edited by Aymann Ismail.

Write to aymann@slate.com with feedback or suggestions for episodes. The latest are below.


Season 2: Episode 7: Stereotypes about Muslim marriages made me fear what would happen when I entered my own.

Season 2, Episode 6: A Muslim Marine is venturing into Trump country and changing minds. But his strategy troubles me.

Season 2, Episode 5: How a pie created by black Muslims became an anti-slavery symbol, a rap favorite, and the only true Muslim-American food.

Season 2, Episode 4: How a respected Muslim journalist became an outcast after he wrote about Israeli settlers—and what it says about the community that shunned him.


Season 2, Episode 3: Why the far right believes every Muslim—including me—is a liar.

Season 2, Episode 2: What happened when a devout Muslim and a devout Catholic got married in small-town Iowa.

Season 2, Episode 1: Why the #MeToo moment is especially distressing for Muslim women.

coSeason 1, Episode 8: Everyone thinks Muslims shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. I’m doing It anyway.


Season 1, Episode 7: Ex-Muslims are fiercely criticized by believers. They used to make me angry, too. Then I got to know them.

Season 1, Episode 6: Fox News claimed a "Sharia court" is enforcing Islamic law in Texas. So I went to see it.

Season 1, Episode 5: I met a “homegrown” Muslim extremist. His story sounded a lot like mine.

Season 1, Episode 4: Muslims can’t take a joke about Islam? Don’t tell that to these profane Muslim comedians.


Season 1, Episode 3: Wearing a hijab is complicated. Deciding not to wear one can be even more so.

Season 1, Episode 2: To Fox News, Ramadan is another reason to be suspicious of Islam. To American Muslims, it’s an experience more profound here than anywhere else.

Season 1, Episode 1: I want to confront homophobia in my community. I started at the home of a gay alt-right activist who blames Islam.


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Aymann Ismail is a Slate video producer/editor.

Jeffrey Bloomer is a Slate senior editor. He edits and writes for the human interest and culture sections.