Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Why I support the Facebook ban by Bangladesh (and Pakistan)

Let us forget for the moment that the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan are one of the most corrupt governments in history and they have anything but the welfare of their people in mind when they make decisions. Let's assume, for the purposes of this post, that they banned Facebook in their countries for the sole reason of "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" page that was not taken down by Facebook.

Here is why I support such a ban.
  1. It is not that the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan banned public gatherings, freedom of speech, the internet or mass communication. A single website was banned. There are many ways to communicate to other people. So it's not that freedom of speech was curtailed. There are other social web networks.

  2. Drawing a caricature of Muhammad showing him in a degrading fashion is offensive to the majority of Muslims. Just like calling a black man a negro is offensive in USA, promoting Nazi culture is offensive in Germany (and illegal) and denying the Holocaust is offensive in many European countries. Just because you don't find it offensive does not mean others don't. If you have the right to offend, then don't be surprised when people exercise their right to be offended.

  3. Making fun of Muhammad is illegal in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Facebook is a company. By not taking down those pages it broke the laws in those countries. The countries therefore punished the company for breaking their laws. Facebook had to make a decision as to whether to stick to its values of "free speech" and operating in those countries, and it chose to ignore the laws. It therefore has to suffer the consequences.

  4. If Facebook was really about "freedom of speech", as they say they are, then it seems they are very selective in their "freedom of speech". One gentleman from Pakistan decided to test their limits, and this is his story.

  5. Making fun of the Prophet is hate speech - to Muslims. It may not be hate speech to you. Similarly, to many Bangladeshis who have never faced the wrath of Hitler, it's no big deal to praise some of his economic policies, but it's hate speech to Jews. If you support total freedom of speech then you have to support ALL hate speech.

  6. I don't think we have complete and absolute freedom of speech. We never had. Every society has its taboos. Facebook breached one such taboo in those countries and got punished fair.

  7. The ban is a non violent protest against Facebook's actions. If companies suffer financially through such actions, in the future they would be mindful of Muslim sensititivies if they want to do business with them.

22 comments:

Your Precious said...

Is there an actual law in Pakistan or Bangladesh against drawing the prophet? As far as I knew, it is only prohibited in Islam.

mezba said...

According to Wiki, The People's Republic of Bangladesh went from being a secular state in 1971 to having Islam as the state religion in 1988. Despite its state religion, Bangladesh uses a secular penal code which dates from 1860—the time of the British occupation. The penal code discourages blasphemy by a section that forbids "hurting religious sentiments."

I am sure there is a similar law in Pakistan.

Suroor said...

"Drawing a caricature of Muhammad showing him in a degrading fashion is offensive to the majority of Muslims. Just like calling a black man a negro is offensive in USA, promoting Nazi culture is offensive in Germany (and illegal) and denying the Holocaust is offensive in many European countries. Just because you don't find it offensive does not mean others don't. If you have the right to offend, then don't be surprised when people exercise their right to be offended."

Very well-said! Excellent post, one with which I fully agree.

GeekiSiddiqui said...

Good Post, I agree with your comments!

TManiac said...

Mezba! Great writing on your post! And you mentioned and brought up stuff people wouldn't have thought about ... like how drawing the caricatures are a form of hate speech against Muslims worldwide.

Just how do you have such knowledge/insight/analysis?

Azra said...

I agree too. I'm tired of people punting "freedom of speech" as an excuse to behave badly and be disrespectful. Freedom of who's speech? is what we should ask... because if it were Jesus or Moses being ridiculed, no one would find it funny or amusing.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has double standards. If Facebook was owned by Muslims then they would have allowed Holocaust denial, anti-Israel pages on it but deleted blasphemy content at the first instant.

Everyone has their own taboos. Why do Muslims DEMAND others to respect their taboos? You are not entitled to anything.

You Muslims are much less tolerant to free speech by the way. blasphemy is punishable by death in muslim countries whereas hate speech of any kind or holocaust denial will (only in some European countries) will get you a few months in the jail at the most.

Muslim Girl said...

I actually didn't agree with the facebook ban by Pakistan, but after reading this, you have officially converted me. Btw, the "One FB, Two Faces" link you gave... can't that guy totally sue FB for breach of contract, discrimination, etc?

mezba said...

Suroor, thanks. Yesterday there was a discussion in Toronto with Salman Rushdi and Elie Wiesel. While Rushdie was consistent, Wiesel said he supports freedom of speech - UNLESS it's something about the Holocause. Look at his response:

Both men spoke out in favour of freedom of speech as an essential human right, but Wiesel made a forceful exception in the case of those who deny the Holocaust.

“Holocaust denial today – what it does to the children of survivors,” he said. “I believe Holocaust denial should be illegal.”


And I say making fun of the Prophet Muhammad is as hurtful to Muslims as denying Holocaust is to Jewish people.

Source: The Star

Geeki, thanks. Is it sort of ironic that I posted a link to this post on facebook? LOL.

TManiac, thanks. It is a hate speech, sometimes not perceived as such by those who are doing the speaking.

Azra, rather than freedom of speech, what I support is justice. People, everywhere, rules to the ruled, must be just and fair.

Anon, if Facebook was owned by Muslims as you say it, and it had Holocaust denial in it, as you allege, it would not be allowed to operate here in Canada or in the West. Canada didn't even allow Al Jazeera channel until recently! So I fail to see where your argument is taking you.

Muslim Girl, thanks :-)

'liya said...

Good post, this and the previous one too.

Aisha said...

Very good points.

I heard FB has removed the page now and has formally apologized.

Rezwan said...

I do not support the ban in Bangladesh because it was executed days after the offensive page was removed from Facebook. What exactly was the cause of the ban?

In Facebook there are groups protesting the offensive pages which were far greater in numbers. By banning you take away their right to protest and the truth that logic and common sense still prevail in many people.

The persons who put up the offensive page and those commenter who hates Islam (they might be around you physically) - can you ban them? They will come up with another idea.

Stand up against the hateful ideologies - not the media.

mezba said...

More proof that freedom of speech is not absolute.

Australia bans player for remarks

Liya, thanks.

Aisha, according to Wiki it looks like Facebook agreed to suspend the pages only for users in Pakistan and India. However, as of right now, I cannot access it from Canada.

The apology was tendered by U.S. cartoonist Molly Norris and the man who created the first Facebook page promoting the May 20 event, both of whom disassociated themselves from the event.

Rezwan, typically Bangladesh may have been late on this (they banned it after the day - May 20 - was done! But neverthless, it sends a message to Facebook because the page was NOT removed as requested. May 20 came, and the page was still there. Thus, Facebook broke the laws in Bangladesh, as well as participated by allowing the event (Draw Muhammad Day) to continue on facebook.

Stand up against the hateful ideologies - not the media.

If the media participates in spreading the hateful ideology, as Facebook did, then the media deserves to be banned as well.

Mashriqi said...

FB was temporarily banned in BD because there was a cartoon ridiculing the PM and Khaleda Zia, not because of Draw Muhammad Day. I doubt the Bangladesh government would be so passionate about a religious issue.

Saba said...

Wow, this was an eye opener! I really was shocked by the article written by the Pakistani man. You've made some great points!

binu said...

The Holy Quran contains a lot of disparaging statements about Christians and Jews.It even denies the GODHOOD of Jesus which is blasphemy to majority of Christians. Considering these, would you support if the mainly Christian western countries ban Quran until the offensive passages are taken out or modified?

Sanju said...

I didn't agree with the ban until I read this.

Reading that article made my blood boil. What bothers me the most are people who go "What Islamophobia, where? You're imagining things."

Sana said...

Thank god atleast somewhere I get to read what I felt.
Most of us chose to not react at all. Just ignore. We were hurt but didn't show it. That's what they wanted! Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is way above all this stuff.

mezba said...

Mashriqi, which is why I started the blog post with the statement

"Let's assume, for the purposes of this post, that they banned Facebook in their countries for the sole reason of "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" page that was not taken down by Facebook."

The Bangladesh government is just too stupid to be trusted to be honest! :-)

Saba, thanks and welcome to the blog.

Binu, the Holy Quran is not breaking the laws of any country. Blasphemy is not against the law in the secular West. Moreover "The Holy Quran contains a lot of disparaging statements about Christians and Jews" is a false statement.

Sanju, the good part about this whole thing was that it was mainly a non violent protest.

Sana, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is way above all this stuff. He is indeed. We should all react how he reacted to provocation.

sunehra said...

Great thoughts! Though I do not agree that any type of website should be restricted in any country of the world, I can understand your sentiments.

Muslim Girl said...

We should all react how he (Prophet Muhammad(SAW)) reacted to provocation.

What do you think our reaction should be in terms of how he would react? (I am asking this honestly). Should we speak out that we agree with the ban, or do something further?

mezba said...

Sunehra, thanks. I actually think we should be FREE to commit blasphemy, after all it is God who will judge and let Him judge in the afterlife on this. In this world and today's society we should allow mockery of the Prophet, because I believe he is above this which SHOULD be borne out by the actions of the Muslims (unfortunately it isn't today).

Muslim Girl, while I support the ban in the light of Bangladesh's (and Pakistan's) laws, I think the laws themselves are wrong (as I explained in the above comment to Sunehra).

As for how the Prophet will react, I think it depends on the insult and the intent. I think if it is just to make fun of him he would have passed and let it go and let his good actions and honest reputation speak for itself.