Many articles were published in Indian press, regarding Facebook ban. One such article which was published in Hindustan Times, Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle mentions my words regarding the facebook-ban-dilemma. The reporter or the source has mistakenly mentioned myself as Ali Shah (I dont mind that name either , in reverence to the Bullah Baadshah). The article is cross-posted below.
Some things need to be kept in mind regarding the facebook/internet blockade, every blogger/activist/journalist and citizen of Pakistan who is voicing out to get the ban lifted, is not in favour of the degrading campaign carried out by some ignorants. We, like every Muslim brother and sister, feel despised by the slanderous campaign carried out some “average” cartoonist, who made it to the headlines worldwide. Freedom of Speech and hate-speech collide at times, and one needs to understand the difference between the two before throwing tanturms and hurting feelings of billions of human beings. One cannot cry “bomb” in a hospital, disrupt peace and then say its my freedom of speech, because everything has a limit in this temporal abode. One cannot start a campaign saying “Lets draw XYZ’s Mom” and then link to Freedom of Speech, because someone’s feeling will get hurt – And here, Prophet (p) is held in reverence by 1/5th of humanity, who consider him (p) more closer to themselves than their parents.
Facebook should have dealt with the matter more effeciently, and instead of judging “why” feelings of billions were getting hurt, it should have paid heed to the millions of abuse-reports it was getting. I have already written a blog-post regarding this (facebook or bias-book). However, we must also understand that facebook was not the campaign itself, banning the entire facebook was not wise, as it gave the “average” cartoonist and slanderous campaign the hype it yearned for, and started for – we must have instead sent an official complaint to Facebook HQ’s or used our foreign diplomats to pressurize facebook to take the page down, and had it not paid heed, we should have blocked the blasphemous groups/pages instead of banning the entire domain.
Why? Because Facebook has hundreds of pro-Islam pages (one such page, run by friend Abbasi has over 270,000 members) propagating the real message of Islam to the West, communicating with world in this global village, hundreds of charities, social welfare organizations, online blood donation groups, civil and human rights activists group and women/child-abuse initiatives use facebook to propagate their message and very effeciently. My organization (Pakistan Youth Alliance) has raised over 7,500,000 PKR using facebook and helped IDP’s, orphans, disabled, needy and juveniles. (read link mentioning PYA’s social work using facebook, see this interview with Dawn News and hear Naveen Naqvi mentioning how we used facebook to help IDP’s, also see this link to see MSN News’s report about how we used facebook to carry out a campaign against the dictator Musharraf, also read this report in Newsline Magazine, under the aegis of “The Facebook Revolution” mentioning us regarding facebook and activism).
So the gist of what I am trying to say is – A knife can be used to cut apples and cut throats, TV can be used to disberse information/education or destroy a childs mind, facebook/youtube/twitter/Flickr/Yahoo/Gmail/Hotmail and others can be used to start blasmphemous campaigns and at the same time, can be utilized for good causes. Are knives banned because someone cut a throat with it? Is TV banned because of one or two “bad” programs ? Why facebook, youtube, flickr and twitter were banned then? Does banning help stopping the campaign or propagates it more? Is closing your eyes from an approaching danger a solution or digs in more holes? The campaign initially started with facebook and now is everywhere on the www, the minds behind the campaign exactly wanted that. Hiding from reality doesnt change reality – things are not simply black and white. There are issues to discuss and realities to be matched with eloquence, so there should be a discussion between opposing parties and eyes must not be closed.
This explanation was necesarry before re-posting the articles published in Indian press and elsewhere (DW Germany, BBC World, Radio FM 99) regarding my stance.
Hindustan Times, Deccan Chronicile and Indian Express:
Raza Rumi cross-posted a message by Ali, who wrote: “They have banned the entire Facebook domain in Pakistan (and) barred Blackberry services for one ignorant rant? They have burnt the entire village for one bad guy and we must stand up to it”.
Hindustan Times : Pakistan’s e-space abuzz after Facebook, Twitter ban
Deccan Chronicile: After Facebook and Youtube, Pakistan blocks Twitter, Blackberry
Indian Express: Pakistan Seethes on Twitter, Blackberry Ban.
Calls for free speech
But there were also other opinions. Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, from Islamabad, started a Facebook group against the ban, called “Protect Online Speech in Pakistan”.
“Facebook is used by many Pakistanis for good causes, too. There are many pro-Islam pages on Facebook, with members in millions. A friend of mine is running such a page, and he is spreading a positive message about Islam towards the world. Similarly, I myself and my friends have done a lot of good work on Facebook, helping people, helping humanity. So you cannot burn the entire village for one bad guy!”
- Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi