Robert Azzi is a photojournalist, columnist and public speaker who lives in Exeter NH. An Arab American Muslim, he writes on issues of Identity, Conflict, and Islam, particularly as they apply in the Middle East and the Global South. Born in New Hampshire, he’s lived in Beirut, Cairo, Athens, Jeddah and New York. Although he returned to the Granite State in the late 1980s, he continues to travel to work with Middle East clients and friends on a regular basis.
Home Page: theotherazzi.wordpress.com/
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 recently became a board member of ACLU-NH. As a photojournalist his work appeared frequently in such publications as Life, Time, Newsweek and National Geographic, Fortune and other domestic and international publications.
At Phillips Exeter Academy he once served as advisor to the Middle East Society and to the Muslim Student Association (MSA). During the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia, Azzi initiated a project that brought 85 students from Bosnia-Herzegovina to live with American families, empowering them to continue their education until it was safe to return home.
Today, Azzi is a columnist whose work appears (almost) weekly in The Concord Monitor, Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover), and The Portsmouth Herald – where he attempts to contextualize, for an “Outside-the-Beltway” audience, Islam and the Middle East by speaking in the voice of The Other. “People don’t know what they don’t know,” Azzi tells his audience. “I want to open up new perspectives for my readers – especially for those who don’t often agree with me – and expose them to points-of-view I believe are important and which they might not have previously considered.”
Azzi is frequently invited to speak to schools, libraries and civic and religious groups; invitations he welcomes in order to encourage tolerance, understanding and interfaith dialogue and he remains available to mentor students and teachers of issues related to the Middle East and Islam.
One popular program is an event devoted to “Ask a Muslim Anything,” where Azzi welcomes questions on Islam, on being Muslim, on issues related to terrorism and on the geopolitics of the Middle East as he has experienced and understands them. Nothing is off the table – each program lasts approximately two hours!
He is also a regular participant in several interfaith dialogue groups that meet on a regular basis in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He often consults on education and political issues as they relate to Islam and the Middle East.