Response to Mark Zukerberg’s attacks on Islam, Prophet Muhammad PBUH & Pakistan

Below is an excerpt from an Express Tribune report on the now infamous hate-mongering by the Islamophobic Facebook CEO Mr. Mark Zukerberg:

“In his Facebook post, he said, “A few years ago, an extremist in Pakistan fought to have me sentenced to death because Facebook refused to ban content about Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) that offended him.”

“As I reflect on yesterday’s attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject — a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“I won’t let that happen on Facebook. I’m committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence,” he assured.

His response was: “It’s not against our policies to talk about Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). We did block the content in Pakistan where it was illegal, but we didn’t block it in the rest of the world where it is legal.”

Instead of very lengthy writeup exposing the hypocrisy of Mr. Zukerberg in detail, I’d just a raise a few questions to put the entire matter in perspective:

a) Clause 3.7 of Facebook’s terms of service states

“You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”

(https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms)

Why is it that the content even questioning Holocaust is removed & strictly penalized but DESPITE requests and protests by over 1.5 Billion Muslims, ridiculing of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (the most revered personality on the planet) is allowed which incites violence & promotes hate speech in VIOLATION of YOUR OWN TERMS of SERVICE?

b) While propagating Voltaire’s support for “freedom of expression” who said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” why do you choose to ignore Zechariah Chafee who said, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins”, that too ONLY in case of ISLAM?

c) By removing abusive content against Holocaust, e.t.c. but openly stating your support for ridicule of Prophet Muhammad PBUH & Islam are you promoting ‘Freedom of Expression’ or ‘Freedom for Some Expressions’?

d) Is it not true that the “CENSORSHIP” on Facebook has risen by 19% plus over the last year as per various NGO reports?

e) Is any person going to a court of law to challenge something they believe is illegal an extremist, just because they disagree with you?

e) Charlie Hebdo attack happened in France, then why did you choose to attack Pakistan at this time?

f) Why did you stay silent when children were massacred in Palestine by Israel and when 140 angels lost their lives in Peshawar?

g) Will you also classify Bill Donohue, President of the US Catholic League as an extremist and/or terrorist for issuing a statement in the light of the continuous provocations of Muslims that “Muslims are right to be angry.”

h) Is it not true that Facebook is a spy tool which transfers all the private data of its users to CIA & NSA WITHOUT the users even knowing?

i) Why is it that a cartoon of Condolezza Rice is termed as Rascism, a cartoon of Mark Zukerberg is called anti-Semitic but ridiculing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (Nauzbillah) is termed as freedom of expression. What is it, if not hypocrisy of the highest order?

If you ponder over the above questions and the fact that even heads of states like the Queen are not allowed to be ridiculed but despicable competitions to ridicule the most revered person on the globe, Prophet Muhammad PBUH are held and supported, you can clearly see that ordinary peace-loving people are provoked and incited for vested interests.

I’ll leave it for you to decide whether such tactics are being used to further an agenda of “clash of civilizations” by provoking and inciting violence and as a result malign an already marginalized Muslim community?.

For all the above reasons, I urge not just all Muslims but peace-loving decent people of all religions to boycott Facebook and start using alternate platforms like Twitter, MillatFacebook, e.t.c.

I’ll end by stating that while Individuals should not resort to violence we must also condemn the senseless hypocrisy to provoke and incite violence. It is high time that all the nations sit together to resolve the issues arising out of the cultural and religious dis-similarities and fault lines. Let the peace prevail & DEFEAT hypocrite hate-mongers like Mr. Zukerberg hiding amongst us.

I demand that in line with Facebook’s own TERMS of service and respecting the emotions of over 1.5 Billion Muslims, Mark Zukerberg should remove the hate-mongering & violence inciting content ridiculing Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

Economic Impact of Terrorism

The following article has been published in Daily Nation, dated 22nd December 2014

(E-Paper (Print Edition): http://nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2014-12-22/page-9)

(Online: http://nation.com.pk/business/22-Dec-2014/economic-impact-of-terrorism)

Economic Impact of Terrorism

Prof Dp

By: Omer Zaheer Meer

The menace of terrorism engulfing Pakistan culminated in the worst tragedy in recent history with the barbarian killing of children in the Army Public School Peshawar. While Pakistan was dragged in this quagmire by a dictator searching for the legitimacy of his rule, the complicated regional “grand game” has now reached the stage where the country is tearing itself from within, something the enemies always desired.

Leaving aside all other complicacies and debates, killing children can never be condoned no matter what the reason. Islam’s fundamental war principle baring one unique incident has been the strict instruction to not harm the children, women, elderly and even the non-combatant men of the non-believing enemy let alone the Muslims. The massacre in Peshawar was therefore anything but Islam. It was infact an effort to tarnish the image of Islam and a direct assault not just on Pakistan or Islam but entire humanity. Having said that, let’s focus on the lesser examined aspect of the terrorism faced by Pakistan, the economic impact.

The USA-started war on terror that General (R) Pervaiz Musharraf brought into Pakistan while claiming as his success, the meager assistance from USA had actually negatively hammered Pakistan’s economy to the tune of well over $ 103 Billion as per National Economic Survey and various other reputable studies. The loss in addition to the direct costs resulting from infrastructure damage and cross-border attacks involves loss of investor confidence, loss of productivity, wasted time, reduced exports due to increased security costs, business loss due to law and order situation, lack of developmental funding due to diversion to security-related expenses, e.t.c.

Although most of the above costs couldn’t be fully monetized and the biggest factor, the human cost has not been considered, still the conservative estimate of over $ 100 billion should be an eye-opener. To fully appreciate the significance of this, compare it to the total foreign debt of Pakistan currently standing at around $ 64 billion. This would mean an extra $ 39 billion to spend on development and betterment of the lives of the people of Pakistan even after paying off all the foreign borrowings to date. These borrowings as of now account for most of our national budget on account of debt servicing, even much higher than the total defense budget.

Meanwhile the total US aid to Pakistan during the above mentioned war has been under $ 20 billion. It touches the mark of $ 25.9 billion as per the most lavish US claims which still results in Pakistan ending up $ 77.1 billion in red. What’s ironic is that a lion’s share of this “aid” was actually the reimbursement of expenses directly incurred by Pakistan for the conduct of US-led coalition’s war operations. This means the actual truly no-strings attached aid was even less than $ 10 billion as per the most lenient studies, against a loss of over $ 100 billion. It is therefore no surprise that the US embassy in Pakistan vehemently opposed Pakistan’s decision to reveal the economic cost of terrorism in the economic survey of Pakistan released earlier this year, a fact revealed by reputable officials privy to the discussions.

However, with the Peshawar school massacre this American started war on terror has turned a new chapter. It is now closer to home and has turned into a war for the survival of Pakistan. It is an established fact that no country can thrive economically without peace. Therefore the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan has a huge economic cost and is burdening an already shaky economy guided by a policy based on failed measures from the past.

The fact of the matter is that there isn’t a sector left in Pakistan which has not been affected by terrorism, either directly or indirectly. Agriculture which is the backbone of the national economy has taken hits over the years with uncultivated lands captured by non-state actors besides law and order issues making people leave their lands for their lives. This is in addition to the water and energy crisis already pushing this sector to the brink. Manufacturing has also been crippled resulting in lower exports. No foreign business personnel are ready to visit Pakistan and such meetings now normally take place in UAE. But even worse than all this, culminating from the Peshawar school attack, is the wide-spread panic with resulting shockwaves across all segments of the society as well as the economy. If not checked the ramifications of this can be much more than what we’ve already faced.

While the economic impact briefly outlined above is important, the immeasurable cost of the lost lives and the related potential can never be monetized. Therefore, now that the American started war on terror has turned into the foreign-sponsored TTP menace engulfing Pakistan, we’re faced with a problem we’ve to resolve ourselves. The benefits of resolving this amicably will not just be economic but the social positives from such a strategy can be manifold. Though for such a drastic step to succeed we’d need to rid ourselves of the American interferences and subjugation too. It is high time that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis take control of the national narrative to direct the course of action as the extremes of the society, both right and left, have harmed the country enough. The way of the Prophet PBUH followed by the majority of Pakistanis, one of maintaining balance and level-headedness, is the need of the hour.

The author is Director of the think-tank “Millat Thinkers’ Forum”. He is a leading economist, chartered financial analyst, qualified accountant and anti-money laundering expert with international exposure who can be reached on Twitter and www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or omerzaheermeer@hotmail.co.uk