Banning Facebook

Published: May 20, 2010

What is to be made of the ban on the social networking website Facebook by the Lahore High Court? Acting on the court’s orders the site is to be blocked by the PTA till May 31 because of a page on it deemed sacrilegious to Muslims. The issue seems to be that of freedom of expression and opinion, but we are constrained to ask why this becomes an issue only when Islam is concerned. For instance, a page denigrating the Holocaust was removed by the site, so if the sentiments of millions of people are being offended then surely there should be similar grounds to consider removing this page. Why the double standard? Germany, for instance, has laws barring the display and use of Nazi symbols and expressions while Britain still has a blasphemy law. America, perhaps the one country in the world which prides itself on its freedom of expression, even has laws restricting speech and literature that incite others to violence. In a series of judgments, their Supreme Court has ruled that such speech is not protected by the much-heralded First Amendment (which explicitly bars Congress from making laws abridging the freedom of speech.)

Having said that, one has to question the way to counter such hate sites. Bans can be circumvented through proxy servers. Plus, as someone pointed out in a well-argued blog, Muslims should not be visiting such sites in the first place and by launching such a protest they are reacting in precisely the way that those behind the controversial web page would have wanted them to. Many users of the social media website have put up their own pages expressing their admiration for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) — surely this is a better response. Furthermore, the said page is one of millions on Facebook and blocking it entirely means that millions of users in Pakistan will be unable to access a site which has become part of their daily life. A better way would be to block the offensive web page but allow users in this country access to the rest of Facebook.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th,  2010.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Haris Zohaib Memon
    May 20, 2010 - 1:03AM

    I truly agree with the Editor’s expression over the ban on FB. Today, every Muslim is reacting the same way the page-makers would have wanted them to, instead of targetting the website we should have contrived to block that particular page. Nevertheless, you cannot put a ban on every website that is sacrilegious to Muslims.Recommend

  • May 20, 2010 - 1:10AM

    Talk about priorites! Want to get Facebook banned! An order is passed the same day! Want to get missing persons traced! No chance! Want your case heard for petty crime! Wait a decade! If everyone is sooooooo insulted stop visiting the insulting “page”! All this hue and cry is doing nothing but generating publicity which is essentially a none issue! Amazing how 5000 members on a certain group have held a whole nation to hostage! Recommend

  • umar
    May 20, 2010 - 2:25AM

    the ban is for good otherwise it will gona be much more aggressive here in Pakistan .such kind of stuff cause extremist Recommend

  • Muhammad Fahad Pirzada
    May 20, 2010 - 8:53AM

    Its totally wrong decision, I disagree with this. FB is like a footpath, where you will have many types of persons, there will be included beggerar, thieves, officers, friends,now u have to decide which type of people you want to meet (although its true, some vulgar have committed crime, but all must not be punished )Recommend

  • Patriot
    May 20, 2010 - 10:36AM

    Man whats next? A fatwa from a darul-ifta near Guru-Mandir Karachi declaring all FB users Infidels?Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed
    May 20, 2010 - 10:52AM

    I agree with the court’s decision.
    Need to make a strong statement and put pressure on such sites.
    Such hate pages should be blocked by Facebook…

    Plus… My life is much simpler, calmer and more productive ever since I deactivated my facebook account 3 days ago…
    Bliss :)Recommend

  • haki
    May 20, 2010 - 11:51AM

    yeah! this point is true , people might be enjoying who started this group !! but you will soon see that facebook will face a loss of millions!! and that will make them realize not dare to do this again !! and by the way i dont get it why are they sooo cncerned about us? are we muslims and our leaders so important to them ?? how do they get so much time to insult some one whomthey arent concerned to , is this jeolousy or what ?why has history been after the muslims, why not make fun of hindu leaders or anyone elses? may b they are after the truth!! isnt it ?Recommend

  • Nabeel Amin
    May 20, 2010 - 12:40PM

    I fully support the decision to ban Facebook.

    To those saying there should have been no ban:
    They are testing our belief. If we did nothing, they would have gone further/they will go further with each passing moment.Recommend

  • Kate Steve
    May 20, 2010 - 1:17PM

    Look man, every nation has right to stop anything it dislikes. Why the facebook insisting to make caricatures ? I come to know that facebook has a rule that if 30,000 people request facebook to stop some particular thread or event, it gets blocked by facebook. But, in case of caricature, look at the officials. One of the officials confirmed me that there are more than 50,000 people demanding that this must be stopped. But Its not. Then I ask myself asked them why you are violating your own rules. He says we need to “Guarantee” freedom of speech.Recommend

  • Aitzaz Naveed
    May 20, 2010 - 1:57PM

    I admire this act, but the more better and long lasting way to counter such attacks is to truely follow our beloved Prophet’s PBUH teaching and develop atleast one model village or town or home. unfortunately there is not even a single country which can proudly be declared as model, islamic republic.
    I am sorry to say, but we ourselves are responsible for such actions by misinterpretting islam and islamic laws.Recommend

  • Taimur
    May 20, 2010 - 3:36PM

    Your criticism of banning Facebook in comparison with VIP movement does not make sense at all. Facebook is blocked for a valid reason.Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    May 20, 2010 - 6:59PM

    If it is technically possible, then the offending page should have been banned/blocked not the entire site.

    As for me, sitting outside Pakistan, I have no desire to go there even out of curiosity. Recommend

  • Faraz
    May 20, 2010 - 11:45PM

    Depictions of the Prophet are banned in Islam so people (presumably, Muslims) don’t resort to idolizing the images. A non-Muslim drawing a similar image does not violate that rationale. Of course, the images become “caricatures” because people find it amusing to prod Muslims into a frenzy over a social networking website when we otherwise have poverty, illiteracy and self-implosion as a religion sitting in our backyard.

    Think of what your mother used to tell you whenever you were bullied as a kid. Or, if you were the bullier, think of the fat kid you bullied. It was only fun to watch him work into a frenzy. Ignore them, your mother would say, and they’ll stop teasing you. I think we need to take a cue.Recommend

  • Chaudhary Shaan
    May 21, 2010 - 1:23AM

    I strongly negate the reasoning framed in this article. Facebook is always quick to ban profiles, pages, and groups that portray material against Jews or Christians; however, when profiles, pages, and groups that show anti-Islamic material come to light, Muslims’ protests always fall on deaf ears. My question is that is much-talked about, self-styled freedom of speech reserved for ridiculing Islam only?Recommend

  • Sarah
    May 21, 2010 - 1:24AM

    COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THE EDITOR. He summed up the genuine opnion in the best possible. Yes the offensive pages should be banned. like they have been banned in some other muslim countries as well.Recommend

  • Dee Jay
    May 21, 2010 - 1:30AM

    It is a trap set by some crazy freaks to provoke muslims and steal their liberty and righ to enjoy social networking. They know the weak link so they always hit there. We must strike back. For how long we will remain behaind curtains when such things happen? We should show the real mirror image. They offend you, you offend them back “By IGNORING THEM” considering them the dogs who always bark and elephants usually don’t listen. We also have right to make our pages against offensive ones. If FB blocks us, make a new one. But face it. Dont hide away. But one or two day bann does makes some sense.

    However those people who talk about a permanent bann, i think they are behaving more emotional than wise at this hour. We should not get emotional “i know we are all hurt” but its time to act with brains. Face it and answer them in their tone.Recommend

  • Sameena Rehman
    May 21, 2010 - 1:57AM

    Keep up the ban!Recommend

  • Sarah
    May 21, 2010 - 2:28AM

    Baning Facebook for one week is good.
    But permanent bann is crazy.

    There are better ways to show your love for Islam and Prophet (P.B.U.H) rather than stealing public liberty. If they had a right to make offensive pages. We must have deacivated facebook on our own. And whenever activated, we should express our anger and views using the same media.Recommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    May 21, 2010 - 12:04PM

    Our society is an indoctrinated one as compared to others which is why has a world view different from the rest of the world.Recommend

  • Sabeen Khan
    May 21, 2010 - 5:52PM

    I totally stand by the decision! For God’s sake, it is about our religion and our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W !!! Can not we see the double standards of the Facebook management? The pages and profiles would be banned at once if they contain any controversial material pertinent to Christianity and Judaic and tell people that it was the abuse of freedom of speech.But drawing the pictures of Our Beloved Prophet is their freedom of speech!!!

    To consider for 2 mins, what significance of Facebook do we really have in our lives? What is more important to us? To save our religion and to stand by our religion if someone violates it OR to meet with the people online, upload pictures and making groups on Facebook????

    What we all used to do before we were not aware of this Facebook thing? Weren’t we living our lives to its fullest and weren’t we able to catch up with the people even without Facebook?

    I salute Lahore High court for the brave decision it made!

    P.S. while writing all this, I did not get emotional for a second.I wrote it all with a calm mood.Recommend

  • tehreem zahra
    May 21, 2010 - 6:35PM

    I totaly disagree with the decision that pakistani GOVT have made its not the right way to condem the right way is we should deal with the cartoonist who had made such objectionable cartoons facebook is social site to communicate with friends So remove ban from youtube and facebook as soon as possible and the muslims should think and observe them selves are they obbeying muhammad`s(s.a.w) islam plz think about it…Recommend

  • Sabeen Khan
    May 22, 2010 - 12:36AM

    A reply to tehreem zahra’s post:

    Obeying the teachings of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W is another thing and protesting against those who did such a shameful act, is another thing. For instance, most of us dont obey our parents, does it mean that we dont love our parents? or if someone does an abusive or violating act with our parents, would not we protest in return or make him realize his mistake?

    Against the draw Mohammad day,the public can only protest by coming out of their houses and boycotting Facebook and other sites that contain the relevant material.Recommend

    May 22, 2010 - 9:51AM

    PROUD ON PTA . PTA has done an excellent job after banning these sites . PROUD on lahore high court, PTA……. PROUD TO BE A MUSLIM….Recommend

  • Aariz Memon
    May 24, 2010 - 6:48PM

    I think, the ban is not the solution of the problem. There are billions of sites on the net, anti-prophet may use another website for playing with sentiments of the Muslims by drawing caricatures of the Holy Prophet. Thought, it was good move to block facebook to record protest against the nefarious acts. There is need to frame international blasphemous laws and need to revive the definition of FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. On the behalf of the term, no one should be allowed to play with the sentiment of people by using religious matters. Recommend

  • Waleed Shaikh
    May 25, 2010 - 1:21PM

    The facebook is first of all made by the jews itself and they will
    definatly give fewer rights to pakistani and muslims , and more to ziaonists.
    They dont care what they face because they are backed by the U.S and Israel’s govt and they must be so happy of what reaction they are getting right now.

    And believe me it doesn’t end here this type of pranks are going to raise even more just to bully muslims and to get the reaction.Recommend

  • shaista
    Jun 8, 2010 - 8:25PM

    sabeen khan i agree with youRecommend

  • Jun 18, 2010 - 12:26PM

    It takes a complete and whole idiot to ban Facebook under the religion excuse. As a professional headhunter, I am partly responsible for the productivity, professionalism and loyalty displayed by the candidates I provide at firms. Now I ask these job seekers about the ban.

    Stupid responses equal requests to leave my presenceRecommend

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