Cap Times photojournalist Saiyna Bashir put the power of photos on display in a presentation on the Muslim community in Madison Thursday.
Bashir presented highlights from her photojournalism career at the PhotoMidwest’s Third Thursday presentation.
The Cap Times photojournalist shared pictures from her coverage of the Muslim community in Madison, along with a Pakistani woman who was the victim of an acid burn and her coverage of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
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Bashir discussed her story covering the reactions of Muslims in the Madison community after the Orlando night club shooting. She took profile photos of Muslim people from various age groups and different countries and asked them how they felt after the shooting.
Most people know about the Muslim community through their portrayal in the media, Bashir said. Many of the people she interviewed said they are blamed for the actions of Muslims shown in the media, like the Orlando night club shooter. She said Muslims in the Madison community condemn the actions of those individuals.
“These are people who are more American than they are from their ethnic backgrounds,” Bashir said. “These are people who moved here 45 years ago and haven’t even been back — and for them to see in the media that they’re just part of the same group of people who are carrying out all these attacks and doing all of this is very hurtful for them.”
Bashir also shared her coverage of Sarwari Bibi, a Pakistani woman who was burned in 1992 after her first husband poured kerosene on her and lit her on fire.
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Bashir followed Bibi’s journey of finding love for a second time, even after Bibi said, “I thought I didn’t have another chance towards happiness.” The quote went on to be the title of the photo essay.
“It’s worse than even killing someone,” Bashir said. “It’s killing them with acid in a way that they will never be the same again, that they have to stay alive and live their life.”
Bashir said she was glad Bibi allowed her to photograph her wedding. She followed up with Bibi and her new husband the following week and plans to see them more in the future.
Bashir said covering Trump’s presidential campaign was an interesting experience. She was nervous about being denied her press credentials, even though she ended up receiving all of them, because of her Muslim name.
One woman attending a Trump campaign rally in Janesville threatened to sue Bashir if she did not make her look good on the internet.
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The crowd at one campaign rally booed reporters and made negative comments toward them, Bashir said. This was the most embarrassing, humiliating moment in her career, she added.
Bashir said she had to be careful about how she covered the Trump campaign.
Bashir concluded by answering questions from audience members and discussed how photographers can take completely different pictures even when they are at the same event.
“I think we are all looking at the same thing, but different things at the same time,” Bashir said. “It’s really interesting to see that sometimes how different those photos can be that you took in the same place with people who are right around you. I think it’s just about what you see.”