Dr Shahidul Alam, eminent Bangladeshi photographer, writer, teacher and activist who received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts London (UAL) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of photography and activism, has announced that he is returning the Honorary Doctorate.

On the occasion of his 69th birthday on Sunday, Drik Picture Library announced this via a press release, mentioning that he is returning the accolade as a protest against the UAL's ani-Palestine stance. He received the Honorary Doctorate from the University on July 8, 2022, at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Mentioning that at that time, UAL ranked in the top two in the world for Art and Design, Dr Shahidul Alam stated that he happily accepted the degree from UAL Chancellor Grayson Perry because of the university's commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression. Grayson Perry described the university as "the world's biggest factory for making trouble". 

Dr Alam says that despite the appointment of James Purnell, an avowed Zionist, as Vice Chancellor of the University since then, he was heartened by the fact that UAL students were at the forefront among other students of Britain in demonstrating their solidarity with Palestine and urging their university administration to show public support for a ceasefire in Gaza.

However, he expressed that he is appalled to find how far the UAL administration, specifically its Vice Chancellor, appears not in line with that sentiment.

Students at UAL have repeatedly pointed out how they have been "stifled, stereotyped, and ignored," according to Dr Alam. The students claim that "The UAL, through its partnerships with PUMA, Kornit, LVMH, L'Oréal, and many other Israeli or Israel-affiliated companies and institutions, including Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Shenkar Engineering and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, is a willing accomplice in Israel's regime of occupation, apartheid, and ongoing genocide." 

In light of this, Dr Alam states that he can no longer remain associated with the Honorary accolade from the university and has officially informed Stephen Cross, Dean of Media, UAL London College of Communication, that he is returning the Honorary Doctorate.

Dr Shahidul Alam completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Liverpool and earned a Bachelor's in biochemistry and genetics from the institution in 1976. He then moved to London to pursue his Doctor of Philosophy at Bedford College, University of London, where he graduated with a D Phil in organic chemistry in 1983.

Widely revered as a pioneering media personality, Dr Shahidul Alam established the Drik Picture Library in 1998, as well as the Pathshala South Asian Institute of Photography (subsequently known as the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute) in Dhaka in 1999. He established the Chobi Mela International Photography Festival, which is currently one of the most significant and esteemed photography festivals in Asia, and he continues to serve as its director.

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