In another startling attack on the freedom of the press, a photographer in Bangladesh was thrashed and later fired for a photo of a couple kissing in the rain. The photo had gone viral after he uploaded it on his Facebook page.
Photojournalist Jibon Ahmed's photo took Bangladesh by storm when he uploaded the image on Monday after his editors refused to publish the photo on the news portal. The photograph was taken at the University of Dhaka, with permission from the couple,
Ahmed called it "a symbol of pure love". However, not everyone shared his perspective.
While many saw the photo as beautiful, several called it as indecent and Ahmed was assaulted by several fellow photographers on Tuesday. His boss also asked him to hand over his ID card and laptop on Wednesday, without giving a reason.
When Ahmed approached his employers after the incident, they vowed to take legal action. "The attack was not related to the professional duties. These attacks were the result of his personal transactions," Khujista Nur-e-Naharin, editor of the news portal Purboposhchimbd, wrote in an Email to the Washington Post, who first broke the story.
However, the editor claimed that Ahmed has not come to work since the 24th, and did not attend a meeting to discuss the attack. "Everyone at the editorial level congratulates him for taking this picture," he wrote.
In response, Ahmed said he was "disheartened" at how the matter was handled. In his interview to the Post, he said that his editors refused to publish the photo, citing a negative response. Despite arguing that it was impossible to portray the image in negative light, the editors refused and Ahmed then uploaded it on Facebook and Instagram. "The couple had a spontaneous lip kiss; I found nothing wrong in them or no obscenity," Ahmed said.
Of course I am disheartened. Some people in our country became educated only in papers, but they are not educated in a real sense. They failed to realize the underlying meaning of my photograph. I am also a bit worried about myself.
Ahmed also said that he would not tolerate being a victim of moral policing, saying that a "twisted sense of morality cannot dictate an artist's work."
With the rising influence of the conservative right-wing in Bangladesh, the nation has witnessed several attacks on journalists, as well as multiple protests and violent incidents in recent months. Earlier, three conservative students were suspended from the Univesity of Dhaka after they assaulted two students for holding hands.