After midnight on a recent Michigan summer night, the streets were alive with activity. Not for a Detroit Redwings game or a music festival but for a large Muslim American community there celebrating Ramadan. After dawn-to-dusk fasting, Muslims around the world celebrate the holy month. Dearborn, Mich., with one of the largest populations of Arab Americans in the United States, is especially lively during Ramadan.

Photographer Salwan Georges, an Iraqi American who came to the United States from Syria as a teenager, has been documenting the area since 2014. The photographer notes it’s not just Muslims out celebrating. Iraqi Chaldeans, Americans and others also drive from the suburbs to enjoy the late night food.

The work is part of a long-term project that will explore the Iraqi American community in Michigan. Dearborn and nearby Dearborn Heights, within the Detroit metropolitan area, have many immigrants of Lebanese, Yemeni, Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian descent.

Georges pursues the project as he chases a nostalgia for his home country, for a culture he left as a boy. “I didn’t have a chance to experience the culture [in Iraq] growing up for long because I moved away at a young age,” he said.

Georges worked as staff photographer at the Detroit Free Press for over a year, living and working in the Motor City. He is currently a staff photographer at The Washington Post. His work often explores the intersection of his birthplace with a new way of life in the United States.

“To me the work shows people who are just happy to have the chance to celebrate their faith in the land of freedom,” Georges said. “That’s part of the beauty of the United States. Michigan has welcomed refugees for a long time and helps them to become American without giving them a culture shock. It’s an easier place to resettle and to slowly become American.”

After all, he said, “What’s more American than getting a hot dog from a stand at 2 a.m. during Ramadan?”

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