After the outcry surrounding the Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page which is campaigning for the creation of mass cartoon caricatures of Prophet Muhammed [PBUH] on the 20th of May, today the Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the entire Facebook.com domain in Pakistan till 31st May.
Reports of blockage had been appearing around the country from the morning, initially the PTA had only blocked the URL of the offending Facebook page on a number of ISP, but by the late evening it had spread throughout the entire Facebook domain. Over 1.8 Million registered Facebook users from Pakistan will not be able to access their Facebook pages for the next few days.
The official PR notification as reproduced by Aamir Attaa at ProPakistani is as follows:
BLOCKAGE OF FACE BOOK WEBSITE DUE TO PUBLICATION OF PROFANE ANTI ISLAMIC CONTENT ON ITS WEBSITE.
ISLAMABAD: MAY 19, 2010
In compliance with the orders of Honourable Lahore High Court, Lahore, on the Writ Petition No.10392/10, dated the 19th May, 2010, the Ministry of Information Technology has issued a directive to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the ‘Face Book’ and all other internet links displaying sacrilegious caricatures of the Holy Prophet.
Ministry of IT has also directed the PTA to remain alert and watchful and block all such links displaying the profane caricatures immediately.
Ministry of IT has requested public at large to contact a dedicated Telephone No.0800-5505 and e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org , to transmit necessary information, should anything to the effect of objectionable caricature get displayed/propagated at any website.
This open ended notification does little to signify that its on an entire domain and also lays no significant directive on the deadline of the blockage.
According to Foud Bajwa, who writes on Internet governance in Pakistan:
13.48% of Pakistani Internet Users will not be able to access Facebook.com starting at 12am tonight on 20th of May 2010.
Adil Najam at Pakistaniat shares a very valid and compelling argument quite literally blaming the Muslim community to have brought attention to the devious campaign designer in helping him achieve his goal.
I am offended by the idea that page purports and the goals it seeks to achieve. So, why should I dignify it by a visit? Why should I publicize it? Why should I give it the attention it was created to seek. Yet, all of us (now me included, which is why writing this is uncomfortable) are doing exactly that. And that is what pains me.
They simply could not have done this without us. The only people who have turned this from nothingness into a huge issue is us. I am sure that those who set up the page are jumping up and down and thanking us for making their page such a huge success! And that is what pains me.
Rumaisa Mohani conversely suggests to condemn this issue:
We have to decide now that “Do we respect ourselves, as mentioned in the words of Iqbal”? …. Because if we don’t , then we will have to accept what others say about us and do to us. The pictures, cartoons and insulting remarks are increasing day by day , only because we are getting used to them…. and that is where lurks the real danger !!!
An immediate action can be condemning any such hurtful act, which is against our religious beliefs peacefully. We can give them an impression that nobody believes them and make them believe that they are wasting their time and effort to berate us… show out self-respect ! But, we need to do this as a unified force. We should neither deviate from our focus (i.e.,condemning them) nor getting into petty issues (i.e., our own lacking)… because this is what they want us to indulge in.
Tehseen Bajwa at Techie Buzz shares his frustration that Facebook did not block the page:
Interestingly, the group inviting people to draw cartoons only has 42,000 members while the group that is asking Facebook to take action against this has 58,000 members. This however, has failed to get Facebook’s attention. After lots of protests and boycott-Facebook campaigns online, people also gathered on the streets of Pakistan to push Facebook for an action. When disappointed, users appealed the Government to intervene and as a result the ban was issued.
Sardar Mohkim Khan writes to say that the facebook page must be banned:
by banning Facebook we are giving them financial loss and then they will remove all the nonsense, but what about the real culprits? you think they will stop? NO!, they will definitely find some other platform to harass us
Waqas Kamran at CooL Yar Forums says
We should stop using Facebook until they realize and respect Muslims and till privacy concerns are solved. We should use our own websites and support Muslims in anyway.
Meanwhile I wrote on my own blog at Teeth Maestro:
It does little to solve the problem, we as peaceful Pakistanis were lobbying to force Facebook to block the groups activities, our outreach was peaceful and with a definite commitment we had condemned this issue to such a strong degree that we might have possibly been on the verge of a break through, to be honest no one from the Muslim world was so emotionally charged lobbying against this group as we were here in Pakistan, now they have a free reign to celebrate the Draw Mohammed Day. to have won, while our government simply forced us to keep our eye closed.
ProPakistani's stance on this issue is:
We are Boycotting the Facebook on May 20th, 2010 and we will abandon all our activities on Facebook ever after. We have this stance because:
- Staying on Facebook for reporting the bad URLs is pointless, as Facebook has made its mind to not to listen you
- ProPakistani (not saying about you) can’t preach at a platform where people are abusing and using indecent language