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Pakistan: “Hey! Why is Google ignoring us?”

Categories: South Asia, Pakistan, Arts & Culture, Digital Activism, Religion, Technology

Pakistanis are using blogs as a medium to raise their voices about an important issue regarding the biases of technology giant Google. The issue we are talking about is Google Doodles for Pakistan. Google Doodles [1] refers to the Google's logo designs project that Google displays occasionally. Google celebrates and pays tribute to certain world festivals, events and personalities using these doodles. But never have we seen doodles for famous Pakistani or Muslim festivals. Some major festivals like Eid and Ramadan are celebrated across the entire Muslim world.

Google Doodle
Image of a Google Doodle from Flickr , by egg™ [2]: Used under a creative commons license [3]

Bloggers are having different views and opinions regarding reasons and suggestions. The voice was first raised by Bites85 at ProPakistani [4], later supported by many bloggers. Let's see what Pakistani bloggers are saying:

Sohaib Athar at ReallyVirtual [5] writes:

I personally think that Google not showing any Doodles for Islamic events has something to do with their “Do No Evil” policy ;-) Seriously though, while Google can not be forced to cater to each segment of their customer base, especially since doodling is the secondary responsibility of the guy who creates them, but given that

  • Google has doodles for other religious holidays
  • Muslims form a huge chunk of their customer base – much larger than, say, Pakistanis, or people who like Escher
  • Google has doodles for birthdays and other days [6] that only a tiny portion of the world celebrates
  • Google is a PUBLIC company (which does matter)

… by not having a doodle for a single Islamic event/holiday so far, the message they are sending out, to many Muslims, says something like ‘We are the biggest website around and are a global company, but we don’t really care about the Muslim culture and won’t even consider it to be worth a doodle’ – really bad marketing.

On the other hand, some bloggers are bit polite and expressing their views that it might be the reason that Google doesn't want to get into any cartoon controversy.

Here is what Teeth Maestro [7] has to say:

What has been seriously missing in its endless inventory of hundreds of Google Doodles is any logo commemorating a Muslim celebration, be it Eid or any other Islamic celebration, that said I am sure there maybe a little hesitancy on making a graphic image of an Islamic event and not fall into a potential cartoon controversy, but I assure you there are way to ensure that these innocent efforts dont back fire.
Pakistan has been on the Google map for sometime but we have yet to be honored with an Independence day Google graphic on Google.com.pk, our neighbor India has instead been on the receiving end of quite a few celebratory doodles gifts from Diwali to an 15th August doodle on Google.co.in website. But we here in Pakistan sit doodling our fingers in jittery anticipation.

I urge Google to seriously consider our humble request it wont hurt if they surprised Muslims or Pakistani with a customized doodle.

Google services have won the hearts of many Pakistani and Muslim internet users. Many prefer Google's services over its competitors. Therefore, it doesn't go with the Google's image to be biased to any community. So I hope Google will listen to us and will place an Eid Doodle this time :)