Banning websites

May 21, 2010

RAWALPINDI: Adil Najam’s piece of May 21 titled ‘Facebook fiasco’ was brilliant.

As a Muslim, I am of course offended by any form of slander against the Holy Prophet (pbuh). However, I do not support this ban. Not only is it a question of my individual liberties — the court cannot tell me which websites I can or cannot frequent — but it hardly makes sense because by banning these websites you cannot pretend they don’t exist. I feel sorry for those people who do not consider it important to respect other religions. But how is banning websites going to stop this hate?

I would have simply ignored the competition altogether. Does anyone realise how much attention this competition has gotten because of the way many of us have reacted? We have unwittingly provided the creators of that page greater publicity than they could have ever managed by themselves. I am also wondering why courts in other Muslim countries have not reacted in the same way. This action also has hypocrisy written all over it. What about other offensive things on the internet? What about pornography? Is the government going to jump in and ‘protect’ the Pakistani people from everything offensive and vile on the big, bad internet?

A dangerous precedent is being set whereby the authorities are being given leeway to regulate the internet as they see fit. As for Facebook I hope it removes the page. Not because of the court ban but simply out of a common human courtesy that should be accorded to every member of every faith. But closing our eyes and shutting ourselves off from the internet is not the solution.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.