The lawyer who has twice moved the Lahore High Court to ban Facebook in Pakistan has 1,575 friends and spends an average of 14 hours a day on the social networking website, he told The Express Tribune.
Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique, on whose petition access to the website was banned in the country for two weeks last year, told The Express Tribune he stayed logged into Facebook from 8am to 10pm every day.
Asked whether he considered it hypocritical to spend so much time on Facebook when he was trying to get it banned, Siddique said that he checked the site “to make it mend its ways”. He said much of his time was spent looking at messages from people informing him of any blasphemous material on the site.
He also uses the website to share how his cases are going with his Facebook friends, including his petitions to ban the website. Siddique has posted 323 pictures on his profile, including of family, friends and news clippings of his cases published in the local press.
Siddique first moved the LHC against the website last year because of a Facebook page called ‘Draw Muhammad (pbuh) Day’ in which blasphemous caricatures were put on display. Acting on his plea, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority banned Facebook from March 19 to March 31.
After that, Siddique launched the social networking website Millatfacebook, which billed itself as a social networking website for the world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims and as a rival to Facebook.
He also lodged a complaint against Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, the owners of the website, and a woman named Andy, the alleged founder of the offending Facebook page, at Lahore’s Civil Lines Police Station under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The police sealed the FIR after registering it.
Siddique filed another petition against Facebook earlier this month again seeking a ban on the website for again hosting a page of drawings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). The LHC chief justice, hearing the petition, last Thursday told the federal government to think about blocking Facebook for “holding a competition of sacrilegious caricatures”. Another petition by Siddique seeking implementation of these orders is pending before the LHC.
He said as a Muslim, he was doing Islam a service by moving court against the blasphemous material on the site. He said after his petition last year, all the blasphemous material on Facebook on the Draw Muhammad Day 2010 page was removed.
“This is the right way to record a protest against the blasphemy on the Internet,” Siddique said. “There has been no violent protest in the province since I moved the court against the blasphemous caricatures on Facebook. The court proceedings have calmed the public sentiment.”
He denied moving the petitions against Facebook to gain publicity, saying he had many other cases in the courts that were covered in the press. He said the aim of launching Millatfacebook was to counter Facebook and show the Western world that Muslims were not against modern technology, just against the abuse of it. The site has 437,596 registered members.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2011.