Facebook Censorship Press Conference, My Position

I think a clarification is needed regarding my Press Conference on the Facebook issue on 20th May in Karachi.

My position at the Press Conference was to vehemently condemn the blasphemous cartoons. There is absolutely no compromise on this issue.

What was being argued by us and is open for debate was to question the effectiveness of a full ban. When PTA decides to throw 2 million Pakistanis all out by blocking the entire platform of facebook.com it has in turn left it open for non-Muslims to do as they please. We 2 million Pakistanis would have found ways to handle and protest from inside and cripple Facebook through our protests.

During the press conference I said that by banning the entire Facebook you have blown a small issue out of proportion and it has become a bigger public issue with Facebook gaining much more popularity. The word ‘small’ was immediately mistaken by one journalist and he responded “How could you suggest that these cartoons are small, they are a big issue concerning our Prophet”, that very moment I told him to not mistake the context of the word, my point was not to belittle the issue but the fact that small technical measures could have nipped it in the bud. Now Facebook is getting undeserved attention throughout the world which defeats our purpose. The person was still furious and felt offended. I continuously clarified the issue that the cartoons were a big issue but the problem if we could have handled it would have remained small. Banning has been counter productive.

Some mischievous people stated that I was supporting Facebook which was totally against what I had said. But emotions in Pakistan see no reason. The police was there to avoid any untoward incident in the area and after a little while I left the Press Club quietly to avoid any confrontation.

Lessons learnt: We could not communicate this scientific issue clearly, and emotions took better of the discussion

I assure you we are an equal part of the same battle, lets focus our efforts on how to stop this cartoon menace now and also in the future but as civilized, technically savvy people working in the world of technology, not by old world methods of court orders.

36 thoughts on “Facebook Censorship Press Conference, My Position”

  1. It is very sad to see people with this judgmental attitude turning into a right direction! Similar has been my stance but the moment i say 'banning facebook was not right' my friends n even my parents feel like slapping; they just would not let me complete my sentence and i certainly agree with the material here; the point is we need to be more tolerant and at least let the other person finish what he/she is saying and lets not twist the words to our liking!

    1. Yes – thank god the post press conference narration of how we made it out alive was written by Farieha Aziz of Newsline who was there with me by chance at the Karachi Press Club – I thank Allah that we made it out alive.

      NEWSLINE: Critics of Facebook ban face nasty battle

      The reason for this clarification was also to stop the various versions that were floating around which I fear may continue to spark more violence.

  2. Strategy making takes time as well as cool heads. Unfortunately as Pakistanis we are impatient and emotional. No one is denying that the cartoons / cartoonists are right. THEY ARE WRONG. But a complete ban on Facebook is not the solution. Coming to a collective consensus is becoming more and more difficult as listening to an opposing view has become a matter of ego and hurt pride.

  3. Hey dude, I just watched your interview with BBC Urdu. Good stuff!

    I'm dismayed that no one's paying any particular attention to why the person and the character of the Prophet is being disgraced in the manner in which it is today. One only needs to watch the last few seconds of this video in which your interview appears. There's a banner suggesting those who insult the Prophet should be beheaded. Few of us realize that it is our failure to unequivocally speak out against intolerance, extremism, and violence within our own ranks that has brought the Prophet's name into disrepute. He on the other hand endured more than a decade of insults, name-calling, and abuse in Mecca but never sought revenge.

    As far as the issue of free speech is concerned, we need to be unequivocal in supporting this fundamental right. Muslims practice their faith more freely in the West than they do in their own countries. Take Pakistan for instance, we have institutionalized discrimination against religious minorities like the Ahmedis. Killings of minorities in the name of the Prophet's religion are rampant. And then we demand that outsiders respect our Prophet when we ourselves fail to act in a way that behooves the followers of the Prophet.

    You shouldn't be defensive. This is a small issue. That journalist who was offended needs to be told that over and over again till he gets it. After Pakistan's independence, when the religious parties had lost all clout, they used the issue of Ahmedis to gain support by mobilizing the illiterate masses against them. These far right religious parties had actively worked against Jinnah and would never have an iota of support in Pakistan had they not very tactically dragged religion into the equation. Today we have the exact same issue. People immediately forget the immense problems facing Pakistan. We have shortages of energy, water, and food. Our population will double in 3 decades! The problems we are facing are colossal! And instead of dealing with these problems, we are going around telling people they deserve to be beheaded if they don't respect our Prophet. Have the Pakistanis shown similar respect to Ahmedi leadership for instance? I could go on forever, but I'm sure you get the point..

  4. Sighh — i wish we as a nation and as Muslim Ummah were strong enough to face this challenge instead of banning Facebook / Youtube.

    Only if were strong we could have taken an action in a Court of US as its against the laws of Facebook. We could have easily closed down the entire facebook !!!

  5. Why people want to create a vacuum by quitting Facebook is something I am also unable to understand; and I am pretty sure the same people would be whining after sometime about how we are such a minority on social networking websites. Looks like a peaceful resolution of anything doesn't seem to satisfy part of our society call them Adrenaline Junkies or Nut Jobs but they don't want to waste any second of their 10 minutes fame by letting anyone even present the complete perspective.

  6. Dude, I'm glad you got out from there in one piece. I tell you, these contemporary day Pakistani journalists, lawyers and politicians belong to the breed who, in this modern day and age, still wipe clean their rears with stones. Dude, if facebook weren't blocked, rest assured 2 million muslims users of this country would have thwarted the evil agenda of the blasphemers. Now, an open space has been gifted to them. I still believe that the ban on facebook, youtube and wikipedia and now twitter is politically motivated with the real agenda of curbing dissent against the government that is losing its credibility by the passing day. The supreme court-babar awan showdown is just around the corner and they want to impose a complete internet/media blackout through out Pakistan. I fully support the daily protests against blasphemy as the love for our beloved Prophet (PBUH) knows no bounds and we're ready to shed blood for this God's best ever creation, but if blasphemy were an issue, the first thing the government should have done was to ban the speeches of Asif Ali Zardari, particularly the one in Naudero where he openly propagated to his audience to do GRAVE WORSHIPPING thus, amount to shirk.

  7. Dude, I’m glad you got out from there in one piece. I tell you, these contemporary day Pakistani journalists, lawyers and politicians belong to the breed who, in this modern day and age, still wipe clean their rears with stones. Dude, if facebook weren’t blocked, rest assured 2 million muslims users of this country would have thwarted the evil agenda of the blasphemers. Now, an open space has been gifted to them. I still believe that the ban on facebook, youtube and wikipedia and now twitter is politically motivated with the real agenda of curbing dissent against the government that is losing its credibility by the passing day. The supreme court-babar awan showdown is just around the corner and they want to impose a complete internet/media blackout through out Pakistan. I fully support the daily protests against blasphemy as the love for our beloved Prophet (PBUH) knows no bounds and we’re ready to shed blood for this God’s best ever creation, but if blasphemy were an issue, the first thing the government should have done was to ban the speeches of Asif Ali Zardari, particularly the one in Naudero where he openly propagated to his audience to do GRAVE WORSHIPPING thus, amounting to shirk

  8. Dr. When 'state institution' start exploiting religious sentiments for political gains – there is little space left for reason.

    Every Pakistani has to think why was 'judicial interference necessary in such an issue and why mainstream media blew it out of proportion.

    The kid 'Andy' who set up that page never expected that he is going to choke the only nuclear power in Islamic world. Thanks to 'Azad Adlia' he would be laughing all the wayhome !

  9. I guess its a symptom of impotent rage and a sense of powerlessness that any sign of rationality is taken as compromise. Considering all that is happening in our country, which we are seemingly unable to control, controlling the internet and banning access to something is at least in our abilities. To show that we are not powerless.

    Though, one would think that reporters who were present, were there to report, not to emotional and pass judgement themselves. With their experience of covering various events and interviewing a host of personalities, one would expect that they would under stand the context within which a statement is being made.

  10. In such situations that we are getting into, where even our so-called aware which include journalists react in such way, we need to find solutions how to communicate the problem. Emotions will run high but how to spark rationality in them without succumbing to their emotional blackmails is an art that should be devised. Easy to say tough to do, I know.

    1. include journalists react in such way [Raheel]

      =========================

      Journalist Reaction was just a cheap show otherwise they have a Full Fledged Bar in Karachi Press Club on the First Floor. They sometime serve really good stuff. Try it sometime.

    2. include journalists react in such way [Raheel]

      =====================

      It is this axis of terror and evil between the intelligence agencies, media men and the terrorists that needs closer and deeper investigation and public scrutiny. I remember that it was Hamid Mir who told me in February 2008 that it was former US state department official Robin Rafael who sent Dr Shahid Masood on a study tour of the US after his show was temporarily suspended during Musharraf’s government. Another senior editor from the Jang group told me that Shaheen Sehbai violently turned his guns on Zardari after the latter refused his request to appoint him as High Commissioner to Canada. Hamid Mir saga: the buck stops at General Parvez Kayani By Yousuf Nazar Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 at 10:52 pm http://www.yousufnazar.com/?p=986

  11. Ever heard of "Doodh mein mangnanin dallna"

    protesting over the ban of facebook it exactly like that, instead of show solidarity regarding the cartoon issue, you guys want to act as show stealers, trying to takeoff the focus of people from the actual issue of cartoons

    and there is a right time/place for doing everything, 'freedom of speech' is cool but when you go to a funeral you don't start talking bad of the deceased, likewise this is not the right time/situation to cry against ban of facebook

    And I remember how the 'enlightened moderates' like you have been always preaching (in similar situations) that we should go for economic embargoes and should stop using products from west instead of carrying out useless processions and stuff

    so, in this case our Govt put a embargo on the offending product i.e. the facebook and now you start crying like babies that why it has been banned ?

    Facebook is facebook because of its large user-base, when people stop visiting the site it will impact their revenues, Facebook earns money from us, haven't you seen the ads of local brands on facebook ? if they are not ready to respect our culture and religion than why should we give our business to them

    If just a single page had been banned than it would not have 'hurt' facebook and would have largely gone unnoticed, the message by complete ban is clear, if you don't respect us than don't expect business from us, it is simple common sense

    finally, stop whining and get over it

  12. There is something inherently wrong being developed in tot he Pakistani mentallity. This is more so with the pakistanis actually living in Pakistan. The "ex-pats" such as myself seem to have a different view – one would argue a more learned view of the way things are in the REAL WORLD.

    The ban on FB and YouTube among others is akin to using the sledge hammer to break open a nut! yes I know this is going to be used to criticise me just as the Teeth Maestro was at the press conference about the use of the word "small". But that would be a typical example of my first para above.

    Being in Karachi at the moment, I am able to access all the banned sites by the virtue of logging in to my home PC in the UK and so on…..I dont trust all the proxy servers out there with my personal log-in details, sceptic that I am!!!

    One thing I have learned is that this ban on FB has reduced my SPAM traffic on email to less than 90% of what it was last week….so some benefits there….but the pakistani "friends" on my FB profile are less than half of my friends list. Most of this SPAM was from people who preach to me about being a good muslim and support all that is unruly and unholy within Pakistan at the moment. The so called re-formed and re-born again muslims. The ones who think that their extreme interpretation of islam is the "correct" version and all those in the over 1400 years of islam before them were wrong. These guys promote khilafah and sharia law. Sharia Law is not a islamic value in the true sense of the word if you consider that these did not exist in the time of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH). These were created long afterwards by men, I believe the rulers of Syria! The same principle that these loonies are against now, that man made laws are not to be followed as such in a democracy, are the ones that they want to create.

    So yes the ban on FB and else is wrong and was passed down by an ignorant judge without any knowledge of the technology available to him to ban just the URL concerned or the expertise he could have sought from outside. But give due credit to the man still that he only banned it till 31st May until a full hearing could take place. This is how the legal system work…make an interim order and then have a full hearing. But life goes on.

    In my opinion the ban has been counter productive to the extreme minority in Pakistan. Now they have lost the medium they use to propogate their own fanatical version of our glorious religion.

    I would make a prophecy here, despite being a humble servant of TRUE islam, that the ban will be lifted soon enough because the same idiots that applied for it will realise it that it is counter productive to their own agenda.

    I live an hope that the Pakistanis in Pakistan can learn to channel the power of being emotionally charged to something constructive rather than destructive agenda they have been leading in the recent years.

    Islam has survived and thrived for over 1400 years and no doubt about it will continue to do so for the next 1400 years (allowing for mankind not destroying it self beforehand), despite the extreme neo-con agenda to malign the glorious and pure religion of islam.

  13. I have few questions to all of you Muslims:

    What is face book? Is it necessary for our life? Can’t we breathe without it? Can’t we live without it? Can’t we live happy without it? Is it our duty to be a member in fact active member of FB? Can’t we use any other social network if it is really important for us to be a part of a social network on internet? Are we serving our country, religion, humanity or even a single person by using FB? Is it freedom of speech to draw pornographic images of someone’s father or beloved one? Can’t we use some other Islamic resources or forums to share Qurani verses, Hadis, Videos of Islamic Scholars?

    And is it more important to be Muhammad (S.A.W.W) Lover or FB Lover? Could we ask for intercession on the Day of Judgment by our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W)?

    If we didn’t block FB, then what was the other ways to protest which effect (banning of 0.5% users of FB even didn’t affect total users of 400 million, but this could be much more if the whole Islamic world banned FB).

    And I have just one answer to all these question Yes I can live without FB and I have deactivated my FB account forever. And I am also trying to follow my religion Islam more strictly.

    May Allah Bless Us With The Strength of Faith. Aameen.

    And also we need to get independent from these Non Muslims countries in technology, finance, business, AIDs, politics, decision making, education system, social life, media, and in every field of life. We need to be true Muslim and a devoted Pakistani. Aameen.

    1. Your affection for religion is pure but your actions misguided. Facebook owners are not Muslims so they don't have to adhere to Islmaic regulations regarding bussiness. They are doing a bussiness and they will do what earns them more money. Believe me it has nothing to do with harming Islam in any way.

      Yeah if you feel like facebook is a waste of time, you should deactivate it. But making it like it is some kind of religious obligation, which it is not, sends a wrong signal and is a misguided interpretation of Islam.

      Facebook like internet in general is a forum which can be used positively or negatively depending on the intentions of the user. So do not categorize Facebook as unislamic. This is the kind of hardline thinking which makes it difficult for a moderate muslim to breathe in Pakistani space with a little air of freedom and comfort.

      With most pakistanis, it is not about following Islam, but projecting yourself as some kind of jiyala of Islam. Mumtaz Mufti used to smell piety from some people and would always avoid them. Islam is not about showing off your religious commitment but in Pakistan it is mostly practiced along these lines. This is hypocrisy at its best.

      If you want to boycott facebook, then perhaps you should boycott all the products of all multinational companies whose owners are mostly jewish or chirstians. If you want to generalize it, then this is the way to go. Your children should wear pampers with the P & G tag. And there are million other products in everyday use in our homes which we conveniently ignore when showing off our Muslim zeal and hate against jews. You might even like to boycott English language.

    2. Gox

      On the whole it is some kind of misadventure in the name of fun.Those Americans who started such acts for some business peaks are forgetting that US soldiers are also directly in front of fake warriors of Islam and such kind of stupid fun can bring their working environment more harsh and dangerous through such provoking acts.

      Boycott is temporary way of protest for those who take serious matters and strong words in light manners or just want to see the world through their glasses of non seriousness.

      On one side western minds drop no chance of carelessness and here we miss no chance of hiding our insecurities or miss not a single opportunity of showing our love to Prophet this way.No matter we follow his principles of prophecy but cant get rid of such kind of false religious ego.

      In fact we are all time in search of such statements and acts that would makeup our emotional deficiencies in religious corners.

      Nobody will quit any western and Chinese products for sake of showing their love to Islam as we have no other choice left for our survivals due to our participation as front line warrior of Islam all the time for last 30 years.

  14. I can imagine what would have happened there. Actually, we need to teach technology to our media professionals.

    I did my thesis on this topic and found that most of the people don't even consider using emails for their profession. Not much of them were aware of Facebook a year ago.

  15. بہت شکریہ ڈاکٹر صاحب! کراچی پریس کلب میں جو کچھ ہوا مجھے اس کا بہت زیادہ افسوس تھا، خصوصا آپ کا۔ مجھے ایسا لگا جیسے پریس کانفرنس سے قبل اس طرح کی صورتحال آپ کے ذہن میں نہ تھی، اس لیے شاید چند سوالوں کے ایسے جوابات بھی دے گئے جو نہیں دینے چاہئے تھے۔

    اللہ آپ کو اپنے حفظ و امان میں رکھے۔ آمین۔

  16. Teeth

    our soil is extremely vulnerable for religious riots as we have taken Pakistan on religious basis and still striving to get our idenitity as specifc islamic sect rather than as a nationalist.

    So before saying anything against FB back ban just consider the mentality of large population living all over Paksitan who are all time ready to explode as human fanatics whenever such basless issues were exploited by paid clerics and illiterate mullahs.

    I am giving you introduction of a successful man and see that for showing your ability you are not all time in need of knowledge latest technology but they proved their credibility through God gifted skills and hardworking.

    Warren Edward Buffett is an American investor, industrialist and philanthropist. He is one of the most successful investors in the world often called the "legendary investor Warren Buffett is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is consistently ranked among the world's wealthiest people and currently the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2010.

    In December 2006 it was reported that Buffett does not carry a cell phone, does not have a computer at his desk, and drives his own automobile,a Cadillac DTS and was living in same house which he had forty years before.

    I am giving you example of people like that as I am living among such professionals , industrialists and hardworking skilled people who are even not aware of FB like social gathering or dependent on IT technology but all are doing well for country.

    Just ignore this ban and funny movement of some western minds as non muslims have no hint that what they have actually triggered in Muslim community.Your comments in FB favour would trigger same effects which our court sensed it and passed this short order on immediate basis.

  17. facebook facebook facebook. So what if its banned. There's a bigger crisis unfolding in Hunza with people dying. Does anyone of you give a f**k the ordeal our fellow citizens are going through??

    1. Yss I agree with you that we people are acting like boosters of FB

      Teeth sometime look me inhabitant of cyber and media world only.

      More serious matters are passing around him while he is looking sad on FB ban.

      45 people have become part of target killings in Karachi in last 3 days and they look more worried of disconnecting of websites.

      That is a trend that has been popularly developed in youth growing up around the net world as part of global village but least concerned what is going on its streets and neighborhood..

    2. Problem with Pakistani ppl is that all are corrupt and none of them is Pakistani. Either they are punjabi, sindhi, mohajjir, balochi or pakhtoon, swati, gilgiti etc. All cry against the corrupt practices but inside all are corrupt. Jo Corrupt nahi hai woh corrupt issliye nahi hai k woh masoom hai … its because he has not got the opportunity to practice corruption. Cheekhtay to boht hain lekin kartay kuch nahi ….

      Logo k pass khanay ko do waqt ki roti nahi hai, hazaro log hospitals main roz martay hain … ghurbat khatam to kya kam honay ka naam nahi le rahi aur yahan sab ko facebuk facebook ki parri hai ….. Aray pehlay Mohammadan Principles pr amal karna to seekho … dikhawa baad main karna…. Bloody Corrupts.

  18. I think the best way to protest against the Anti-Moslem community is to boycott all the goods and things that we use in our daily lives. Besides this, you ppl should arrange demonstrations in the European Countries and openly deny the HOLOCAUST. Moreover, instead of living and working in the european capitals and paying those countries the taxes from your earned money, you should immediately leave those countries sell out your businesses and seek life in any other moslem country if not Pakistan. Is only blocking sites like facebook and shouting on the roads against the caricatures the proper way to show your love for prophet?

    I call upon all the moslems reading this blog to apply the Mohammadan principles in your daily life instead of showing your so-called love by blocking facebook and sites alike …. Do you think that by causing problems for non moslem community in Pakistan is a Mohammadan way of living ? If you dont want to use Facebook, dont use it… Let others (non moslems use it)

    It is right that All moslems are not terrorists but so far all terrorists have been moslems. So Improve your perception rather than making it always wrong.

  19. It is a shame that mob violence/pressure by a few dictates against clear concise thinking and reason. The loser at the end of the day is Pakistan. Does anyone know where Pakistan is heading ?

  20. If facebook has rules, regulations so does Pakistan… It's servile that we defend FB on the basis of its own laws. The judge acted in accordance to the constitution of Pakistan. It was a popular decision but it doesn't make it fanatic or unethical.

  21. The decision to ban fb, in my opinion is certainly the right thing to do. We need to tell the world that we cannot accept such acts especially if it is against the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). Although i do agree that protests and that too violent ones are totally uncalled for.

    A small measure, like you've said, would not have served the purpose as it would not have gotten the message across and i think fb and a few other sites is a small sacrifice for that!

  22. Our step to stop the usage of face book is clean slap for all those who are against Muslims and peace as our religion teaches us be good with whom who are good with you but if anyone take step against Islam, its our duty to do Jihad against that force. Allhamdulillah that step taken by them make us more unite and warn us that they are open enemies of Muslims…. May Allah help us to save Islam and give us strength to face that kind of Coward forces.

  23. Pingback: Facebook ban myth

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