On June 26, the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, along with citizens of Venezuela and North Korea, from entering the United States under most circumstances. The move targets residents of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela at different levels but generally prevents most residents from entering the United States. While the move and much of the press surrounding it have tended to dehumanize millions of civilians, a number of photographers, journalists, and everyday citizens have taken to social media to share a different story. Take a deeper look at life in the Middle East by following these eight Instagram accounts that are working to reshape perceptions of their region.
There are a number of @everyday Instagram accounts aiming to “open a window” into the places they represent. None is more vibrant or informative than @everydaymiddleeast, which shares all aspects of life in this often misunderstood region of the world. Contributing photographers showcase people in peace and conflict, at home and at work, alone and with family. It’s an inspiring page to follow and one that will surely challenge any standing stereotypes of the Middle East.
@dailylibya & @abdurrauf.ben.madi
Foreign journalists regularly come under fire in Libya, even long after the 2011 death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Domestic journalists haven’t had it much better, but Ben Madi is out to document the lives of Libyans through his photography anyway. Operating the accounts @dailylibya and @abdurrafuf.beb.madi, Madi showcases (often in black and white) the diversity of life in and around the capital city of Tripoli.
@best_of_somalia primarily posts photos from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, highlighting the city’s people, architecture, and culture. Informative and often lengthy captions accompany each photo, adding context and providing a bit of background on the subject.
Much like its regional counterpart, @everydayiran documents the lives of Iranians in the middle of their daily routines. Work and social lives, family gatherings, holidays and ceremonies — you’ll find it all showcased here, always tinged with emotion and a layer of deep storytelling.
Yes, this account is a take on the Rich Kids of Instagram trend that broke the internet back in 2015. But there are a few important things to note. First, it’s still active, which is impressive given that the original RKOI page is not, and unlike the original, this one has had to endure regulations and attacks from the country’s government. Second, it serves as a sort of blatant, glitzy way to rebel against oppressive free-speech policies. The account showcases the fashions, travels, and social lives of Tehran’s young and rich in a much different light than they are often portrayed in the media. Kids want to be kids, no matter where in the world they are.
Aleppo, one of Syria’s most populous and war-torn cities, is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. @aleppototheworld is quick to point that fact out, offering a running collection of images both old and new, which act as a sort of time capsule for a city, country, and region that has given so much to humanity.
Syria is rich in beautiful countryside, vibrant communities, and stunning architecture. @dazzling.syria is out to show it off to the world. Although people are not always present in the account’s photos, the culture of the Syrian people is behind everything that gets posted. Fans of Middle Eastern food will get their fix from this page, as well.
Much like Syria, Yemen is buried deep within a brutal civil war. @thanafaroq7 is a Yemen-born photographer who aims to shed light on the stories of Yemenis who have been displaced by the conflict as they work to rebuild their lives in other parts of the world. She highlights not only the people but also the stories behind them — where they came from, where they’re headed, and what it took to get there. Her account is at times uplifting and at others distressing, but it’s never short of informational and inspiring.