Thinking locally : Munem Wasif says

Devotees mourn the Battle of Karbala when Imam Hussain Ibne Ali, the grandson of Muhammad who is considered the last prophet of Islam and a Shia Imam, was killed by the forces of the second Umayad and Yazid © Munem Wasif / Agence VU for Fabrica.

Munem Wasif only works in his home country Bangladesh, because, he explains to BJP, photojournalists just don’t need to travel thousands of miles to find compelling stories to tell.

Two years ago, he was largely unknown, but after winning a F25 grant, the City of Perpignan’s Young Reporter’s Award and a Prix Pictet commission, Munem Wasif has now become one of the most-promising young photographers around. This year, and for the second time in three years, his work is on show at Visa Pour l’Image, the world’s largest photojournalism festival.

 His latest project – In God We Trust – is a personal look at Islam, which is practiced by more than 130 million people in Bangladesh. While Wasif has never been of the religious kind, he tells BJP, his experience outside of Bangladesh has pushed him to address his religion. “The world has changed so much since 9/11,” he says. “A young guy like me, with a beard and a Bangladeshi passport, runs into problems anywhere he goes. In Paris, for example, I was taking the Métro. with a backpack and people kept on asking me ‘is it your bag?’ In one café, a waiter told a friend of mine that if I went quickly they would be happier. They didn’t feel comfortable around me.”

The problem, says Wasif, resides in the fact that too many people are close-minded about Islam. “It’s so one-way,” he tells BJP’s news editor Olivier Laurent. “It’s all about the veil, bombs, Afghanistan, Iraq. It’s about a particular side of Islam. In the media, you only see either extreme fundamentalists or western-influenced Muslim upper class people. There’s no middle. It’s black-and-white, and there are no shades of grey.” And, says Wasif, he wanted to change that perception.

  Read Full Interview With Munem Wasif

  Visit Munem Wasif Official Site

  See Munem Wasif Portfolio on Agence VU

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