“Foniasophobia is the fear of murderers or serial killers, or of being murdered. This fear is usually triggered after hearing news that somebody got murdered or of hearing a person on a killing spree, or more rarely encountering people who killed other people. People suffering foniasophobia would usually lead to ‘anthrophobia’, fear of people as anybody could kill them, and ‘thanatophobia’, fear of death as an act of killing result in death. As a result, s/he would hide in remote places away from populated areas alone. Symptoms of foniasophobia include obsessive thoughts about death, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and extreme anxiety.”
Since 2013, Bangladesh has experienced a series of targeted killing under the mask of religion. Till March 2018 , more than 50 murders took place. Individuals, those who are known for their secular, non-sectorial ideas, those who talk against the traditional social values and question religion, have been the primary targets. These are the people who use various social, print and electronic media to express their thoughts. These are the people who are known as bloggers, free thinkers, secular writers and activists. Reasons of these killing are religious intolerance, growing radicalisation, increasing polarisation within the societies and announcement of the existence of religious extremist ideas and groups. Starting from blogger to writer to gay or lesbian- all are made victim of murder under the name of religious extremism. Such incidents left everyone frightened and live in perpetual state of fear. However, those who are known for their free thoughts and writing, have received life threatening warnings. As a result, people stopped expressing their ideas. The scene of a welcoming and inclusive Dhaka city soon started to change.
All these incidents have left the nation afraid and divided. People do not feel safe anymore in the streets. People are constantly chased by fear of death or harassment from unknown sources. This story is about young bloggers, free thinkers, activists who are suffering most from these incidents. “My own city Dhaka, the city where I grew up, where I made most of my best friends seems so unknown to me”- says a secular writer (anonymous). “A threat of getting killed is constantly haunting me. I can’t trust anyone”- he adds. “I can’t sleep at night without sleeping pills. Even a simplest sound of a wind hitting against the window, or a door-bell, or a sound of phone ringing scares me to death” says another blogger (anonymous). This story aims to capture the mistrust from the perspectives of the sufferers who are living in constant threat and fear; a state of mind that the photographer sees as ‘Foniasophobia’. This project has started in 2014. Nevertheless, this project intends to step into their (frightened people) ‘Foniasophobic’ state of mind and see Dhaka from their perspective. Facing every challenges on the process of this work, the project has been tailored with fictitious characters but with real inputs from the victims’ perspectives. The photographs have been shot of the places– where youngsters use to hangout, where few got killed, areas which feel spooky, and thrilled, in addition to objects and portraits. Clues are taken from newspapers, interviews, and social media posts.