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Pakistan: The Draw Mohammed Day Controversy

Categories: North America, South Asia, Pakistan, U.S.A., Breaking News, Citizen Media, Ethnicity & Race, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Protest, Religion

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Facebook Page

On April 25 a Seattle Cartoonist Molly Norris [2] came on a radio show [3] to announce that she was organizing a cartoon drawing event called Muhammad day in response to Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of South Park which had depictions of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].

In the interview [3] she said:

“as a cartoonist, I just felt so much passion about what had happened.. it’s a cartoonist’s job to be non-PC.”

This resulted in Jon Wellington creating a Facebook fan page on this issue labeling it as “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day [4]”, he introduces the group as:

As a snarky response to Muslim bloggers who “warned” Comedy Central about an episode of South Park showing the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bear suit, one Seattle cartoonist, who calls laughter her form of “prayer,” is asking artists all over the world to create depictions of Mohammed on May 20, then submit the images to a Facebook page she set up. Speaking on a Seattle radio show on Friday, cartoonist Molly Norris said she announced her idea as a way of countering the fear exhibited by Comedy Central in censoring episode 201 of South Park.

The Pakistani blogosphere is in an uproar over the issue, Aamir Attaa at ProPakistani [5] says:

Despite thousands of complaints, Facebook administration is not banning the page; unlike they usually do even for very minor violation of Facebook Terms of Services. This page is clearly violating the terms, by spreading hatred and disrespecting Muslims and their values.

Sana Saleem at Dawn blog writes [6]:

Laughably, the campaign website [7] also claims that the point is not to promote certain “personal/political/religious” messages, but to show the world that “we’re not afraid to depict Muhammad.” But, the question remains, who is the target audience for such a campaign? And what is the purpose of a mass campaign that has the potential to target and offend people of a certain religion?

….. Let’s act rationally once and for all, and help change the trend of the freedom-of-speech excuse being used to justify discriminatory campaigns.

Mani Pro at MANI's Fragasss reacts to say [8]:

The Facebook fan page has been created to hurt our hearts, our souls, our emaan, our love for the prophet (SAW), the prophet for which his real followers faced all the pain in the world. Now when it's up to us, what pain are we willing to suffer?

Expressing her frustration Sahar Rabbani responds [9] at Chowrangi:

They prove by their actions that they are the extremists, not we, and still they call us extremists and terrorists. It seems as if our whole life revolves around Facebook, we’re just so used to all this derogatory stuff that no one really bothers, we’re a dead nation who doesn’t take any action on such events which is really depressing. What we should do is to deactivate our Facebook accounts.

My response to the Molly Norris's interview at Teeth Maestro's blog [10] was to question her hypocrisy on where she chooses to draw the line of Freedom of Expression when questioned about drawing on the holocaust:

Its interesting if you hear her Interview [3], when asked if she would make fun of the Holocaust – she responds “No, there is nothing funny about it” what a hypocritical statement exposing her idiotic position on Freedom of Expression:

This has generally lead to an uproar across the Facebook with many opposing groups cropping up against this initiative, but the most interesting and the neutral way of opposing this event was presented by some peaceful Muslims to launch a group called Honour The Prophet Muhammad Campaign [11], which is explained in this YouTube video:

Rabab Khan at Cacoethes Scribendi suggest restraint [12] in going all out condemning the issue:

While I do agree with condemning Draw Muhammad Day, reporting it and insisting Facebook remove it, I also believe that we should look within for the inspiration required to battle such attacks. When we abuse, slander and increase the hatred, we are not helping the cause. We are only adding insult to the injury.

The uproar continued but in all the pressure Molly Norris may have withdrawn from her earlier position to regret to have gone to the show [13] in the first place:

I regret going on a local radio show on April 25th; my ego took me there, it was a mistake. I meant for this to remain a fictional CARTOON, an artistic IDEA, never to catch fire as an actual ‘event’


Facebook or the group URL might be banned in Pakistan

With all the hue and cry about the event it seems that Ministry of Information and Technology in Pakistan may have instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block the Facebook or the Facebook page according to the sources [15] close to Aamir Attaa of ProPakistani:

A reliable source, who is in direct contact with Secretary MoIT, told ProPakistani that ministry has issued the directive to PTA to ban said blasphemous content in the country. Ministry of Information Technology directs PTA for banning any URL or whole of website in case of any inappropriate content available on it. It is yet to be ascertained if the whole Facebook will be banned or just a single URL will be filtered. In both the situations, step is inline with thousands of Facebook users and according to their urge of boycotting Facebook on May 20th.

While Imran Jafri at Mabo0t comments [16] on the pending Facebook ban:

It is not yet clear If the directive was issued to ban the entire Facebook or the Facebook fan page in question. We will of course update this post as more details become available to us.

As of filing of this report neither the facebook fan page nor the main domain was blocked in Pakistan.