Free Speech or Hate Speech and Racism – Facebook Fiasco


Brief Background:

a) An American citizen identified only as Andy started a group on Facebook (FB) in violation of all FB guidelines to ridicule Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by asking everyone to draw and/or add caricatures (mostly insulting) of the most noble personality of the mankind and “celebrate” 20th May 2010 as “Draw Muhammad (PBUH) Day” (NauzBillah).

b) Despite several protests and requests to Facebook, its admin didn’t even bother to address the concerns and respond let alone remove the offending group which now  over 79000 participants as last reported by Fox News.

c) After it was taken up as an issue, FB admin told BBC and Fox News that they were COMPLETELY BEHIND THIS WITH FULL SUPPORT AS THEY DEEMED IT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. This is iconic when compared to their INTERVIEW TO BBC ONLY LAST YEAR on RACISM issues as well as REMOVAL OF HOLOCAUST PAGES stating:

““However, there is no place for content that is threatening, abusive, hateful, or racially or ethnically objectionable on the site and Facebook will remove any such content that violates our Terms of Use when it is reported… We have already removed a number of groups that violated these terms and we are continuing to be vigilant, immediately removing further postings when we become aware of them.”

d) After the protests picked up the pace with FB getting banned in Pakistan, their admins issued another statement, this time stating that we are considering blocking this page in PAKISTAN ONLY.


Situation at the moment:


a) We had NO DIRECT INFLUENCE over the DANISH AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS who published the derogatory caricatures as their DIRECT MARKETS WERE WITHIN THEIR COUNTRIES.

b) However app 47-50% of FB’s market is in Islamic countries with 10-12% in Pakistan ALONE.

c) We have a chance to shut down FB and set an example so that anyone would think ten times before allowing such despicable acts in the future.

d) I’ll quote Tommy De Seno of Fox News to highlight the Hypocrisy which had got even reporters from such a right wing media section saying that:

” I wonder why they didn’t include “Everyone Piss On a Crucifix Day,” too? That they didn’t do just that, suggests that this is not a pro-First Amendment movement, but a purely an anti-Muslim movement. “ (We certainly don’t support the idea of Everyone Piss on a Crucifix Day”.

e) The youth started a PROTEST, ENGAGE AND SPREAD AWARENESS campaign. The religious parties and student wings of political parties have joined in. The campaign is gaining momentum and strength.

f) After several protests, engagement with the political spectrum and media, spreading awareness within the masses and collaborating with the lawyers to file case in the Lahore High Court (LHC):

i) FB has been banned in Pakistan till 31st May 2010 when there would be a detailed hearing as Chairman PTA (representing the Government policy on

this issue) tried his best to ensure FB would not be blocked and tried putting a lot of pressure on the judge by even lying as to the capabilities of PTA

to enact such a blockade, which were successfully refuted.
ii) Foreign Office has issued an Official Condemnation.

iii) Govt. of Pakistan has lodged a formal protest with the Govt of USA on the directions of the LHC.

iv) Govt. of Pakistan has been directed by the LHC to raise the issue at the UN.

v) Peaceful protests are taking place to ensure pressure is kept up on the Government and the International Community to ensure some laws can be put in place to get this all ended once and for all atleast on such a MASSIVE SCALE.

Recommendations:

i)  We all should issue a formal condemnation and demand a total and indefinite ban on Facebook till a PUBLIC APPOLOGY AND CONFIRMATION THAT NO SUCH ACTS WOULD BE ALLOWED IN FUTURE.

ii) We should also demand from the Government to ensure a proper lobbying so that appropriate laws are enacted by the UN by raising the issue there (as per the LHC directive).

iii) In addition to the points above the following should be referred to address the proponents of PREACHING ON FACBOOK:

a) For several weeks there have been protests, uploading of pages against cartoons and Holocaust pages(which were immediately removed by FB) and several requests to FB to remove that group SETUP IN VIOLATION OF ITS OWN GUIDELINES but FB didn’t do anything.

b) FB on the other hand came out in the open in interviews to BBC and FOX NEWS openly supporting the drive.

c) As for the criticism on Islam or even CONSTRUCTIVE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT ALLAH AND PROPHET (PBUH) we can debate and ignore but for ridicule and blasphemy directed at Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the order is STRAIGHT AND CLEAR and that is NOT to go and preach them but to kill the culprit (which means serving the strongest punishment).

d) Even if we pull up recent history, Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed or others didn’t go to PREACH to the culprits but served stringent punishments. So what would one suggest about them?. Let us remember we are BELIEVERS and should not be apologetic but rather confident when presenting our case.

e) Even as per internationally accepted laws, a freedom of a person ends where the freedom of another person starts.

f) This whole thing falls under hate-speech, racism against Muslims and attack on the right of the Muslims to exercise Religious Freedom.

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