Satire article: Mayor Taposh threatens to sue The Daily Star
Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh's lawyer Mejbahur Rahman today threatened to file a case against The Daily Star as the newspaper's answer in reply to a legal notice over a satire article was "not fully acceptable".
Speaking at a press conference at his Karwan Bazar chamber, Mejbahur said The Daily Star did not offer an unconditional apology and did not give Tk 100 crore for defamation.
The Daily Star has removed the link of the content in question from its online version, which is not enough, he told this correspondent.
Mejbahur said the mayor served a legal notice on the The Daily Star on June 5.
Mejbahur said three things were sought in the legal notice served on behalf of the DSCC mayor -- the article link must be removed from the online version, The Daily Star must offer unconditional apology and give Tk 100 crore in seven days.
"Although The Daily Star removed that article from online, they did not issue any apology in this regard," he said.
The newspaper received the legal notice on June 6 and published their reply on June 8, the lawyer said. The seven-day time limit is yet to expire, he said, adding that if the requirements are not fulfilled, civil and criminal cases will be filed against The Daily Star.
The Lex Counsel sent a legal notice dated June 5, 2023, undersigned by Barrister Mejbahur Rahman, on behalf of Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation. It finds a satirical article, published in the May 13, 2023, issue of Satireday under the title "Cutting trees to make way for air," highly offensive and defamatory to the notice giver.
The legal notice, which this newspaper received late on June 6 afternoon, allowed it only two days to respond. But before the newspaper could come up with a response within the stipulated time, Lex Counsel held a press briefing on June 7, 2023. There, the law firm stated that Mayor Taposh has served a legal notice on The Daily Star and sought Tk 100 crore for defamation. It went on to term the satire article a "report" or a "column", which is factually incorrect.
In reply to the legal notice and the subsequent briefing, The Daily Star said, "We humbly reiterate that it was neither a 'report' nor a 'column', but a satirical piece, which is mostly presented in a parody format in mainstream journalism. Satire relies heavily on irony and deadpan humour. Globally, such satirical articles are written on important and powerful persons and/or institutions. Political leaders, Nobel laureates, famous writers and prominent activists are subjects of satire and irony. It is the standard literary and journalistic practice.
We, however, are shocked to find ourselves so fundamentally misunderstood. In no way was our article meant to defame, humiliate or hurt anybody; it was simply a satire published in Satireday, our weekly page designated for satire. The topic was chosen only because it was one of the public interest issues and many reports, articles and editorials had already been written on it.
It is a long-standing journalistic practice, and it's known all over the world that important leaders and top-level decision makers are subjects of satire. This piece was written to draw more attention to a matter of public concern and assist the authorities to reconsider and re-evaluate their decision, and not, we repeat, not to hurt anyone in any way. It was furthest from our intention. Still, we are sorry to know that our satire piece has ended up upsetting the notice giver.
As a gesture of goodwill, we have already unpublished the link upon knowledge of the unintended hurt as communicated in the legal notice."