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Posts Tagged ‘facebook ban in pakistan’

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 :P, 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”.

Articles:

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.

DW Germany:

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!”

Article: DW Germany: Reaction to Pakistan’s Facebook ban

– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

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It was a radio show, and some criticial points were missed while extracting this print report from my talk, however, here it is:

Pakistani authorities extended their ban on the popular social networking site Facebook on Thursday to other internet sites that showed “blasphemous caricatures”, as the foreign ministry spokesman put it.

Access to YouTube and Wikipedia was also restricted, and BlackBerry services were suspended throughout the country. A court in Lahore had ruled on Wednesday that Facebook should be blocked in Pakistan for failing to remove a page that invited entries to a competition to draw pictures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Many students support ban

Facebook is very popular in Pakistan, with between two and three million users. But outside Hamdard University in Islamabad on Thursday, many students supported the ban. Many Muslims believe that any pictorial representation of the Prophet is sacrilegious. One female student said it’s normal that people are not tolerant when it comes to religious matters, “especially on our prophet. So whatever the government has done, I must say: Thumbs up!”

Another student adds: “It’s ok that they closed it. But Pakistan should open its own community website, which all the Pakistanis can use.”

Calls for free speech

But there were also other opinions. Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, an engineer 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!” 

Facebook had been targeted because a user had launched a page supporting the “Draw Mohammed Day” on May 20. The idea for such a day was originally floated by a Seattle cartoonist who was upset about threats by a Muslim group to her colleagues, the makers of the animated sitcom “South Park” in the US.

Protests draw more attention

Kalsoom Lakhani, a Pakistani blogger based in Washington DC, thought continuing a spiral of protests and counter-protests was counterproductive.”The irony of it all is that there is so much hatred out there in the blogosphere, on Facebook, in the cyberworld. But I think the more anger the ‘Draw Mohammed Day’ created, the more outrage it sparked, the more publicity it got as a result. So this is kind of a self-enforcing phenonemon.”

Equal treatment demanded

Most Pakistani users seemed to agree that Facebook should have dealt with the matter in a different way. Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi said, “Facebook’s policy on abuse is very biased, I feel. For example, I protested against General Musharraf during his emergency rule, when he banned the media and all that. I created a page. It had around 10,000 members, and it was banned. I e-mailed Facebook, and they said that because your page is spreading hatred and being abusive, we are removing it. I said: OK! But this time, of course millions of Muslims around the world were reporting this page, but Facebook was not taking it down!”

Facebook, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has expressed disappointment about being banned in Pakistan “without warning”, but stood by its policies in a statement to AFP news agency.

 Source: DW, Germany  (Deutcshe Welle)     

 

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