Pakistan: Netizens Protest The Blanket Ban Of Facebook And Other Sites

After the ban of Facebook, Youtube and several other sites in Pakistan, the netizens of the country are outraged by the decision. It all started when Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the entire domain in Pakistan till 31st May in response to a petition seeking a ban on Facebook, which hosted the Draw Mohammed Day page created by some users.

In Pakistan this issue has been hijacked by vested groups to gain political mileage. The pro ban campaigners are spreading rumors that Facebook will lose a huge amount of money because of this ban which is not true.

Many of the netizens explained that their standpoint is to protest the blanket ban but they do not support the promotion of blasphemy as in the said Facebook event. However they felt that with that ban the government has taken their right to protest against these offensive cartoons.

It might be noted here that Saudi Arab and UAE also banned the specific page for the same reason – not the whole Facebook domain.

Ahmad Nadeem at Pak Tea House calls this ban “a death of collective wisdom“:

Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied.Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied.

While Pakistan Federal Union Of Journalists (PFUJ) appreciates the punishments of 2.5 million for someone else fault, what will be its reaction if Hindu minority demands ban over ‘cow slaughter’, will they be treated in same manner as constitution guarantees ‘equal treatment before the law’?

Usama Khilji at Chowrangi explains why should there be no ban on Facebook in Pakistan:

The Facebook event ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ indeed came as an offensive shock not only to Muslims around the world; but to all those who believe in tolerance and respect of others’ beliefs.

In Pakistan, the courts reacted by blocking access to Facebook on May 19, and to YouTube on May 20, owing to the presence of blasphemous material on these mass sharing and communication portals.

The Facebook event has been made by a private Facebook user, and is not endorsed by the Facebook administration. The event can only be seen if searched for, or if one is invited to it.

Another movement titled ‘Boycott Facebook on May 20’ was also initiated that encouraged users not to use Facebook on May 20 in protest of the ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ event. This was a viable option as users could boycott the page upon their own discretion, but a ban on access to page in the entire country becomes too imposing and borders draconian.

Faraz Rana, a lawyer based in New York provides this logic that Muslims should not react so vehemently on this issue:

Depictions of the Prophet (pbuh) are banned in Islam so people (presumably, Muslims) don’t idolize the images. The lawyer in me will tell you that a non-Muslim drawing a similar image, especially in jest, will not violate that rationale. Nor will Muslims ever confuse a cartoon with a serious depiction.

The blogger also asserts that it is not the duty of the authorities to dictate what is morally acceptable to the population of Pakistan.

Cafe Pyala asks:

Why, oh why, does everything in Pakistan boil down to banning this or that?

The blogger is of course not a ‘draw Muhammad’ type freedom of speech fan either:

Why? Because I personally think it is entirely hypocritical. There are laws in many parts of Europe for example [..] which make any questioning of the scale of the massacre of Jewish people during the Nazi era, a jailable crime. You simply cannot even say anything that goes against officially sanctioned history and a number of people have been jailed for writing books that have been deemed to be a denial of the Jewish Holocaust. There are also laws (in Europe) that make blasphemy a cognizable offense, with the caveat that blasphemy is considered to be only against Christian beliefs.

The recent events regarding the Facebook page also raised eye-brows. By the 21st of May, 2010 the controversial page no longer appeared in Facebook. It was subject to criticism by some group and they explained that they had nothing to do with the removal. However on Saturday the page was up again with explanations that one of the moderators deleted the page after his account was hacked.

People are questioning that such an offensive page full of hateful comments remains without moderation while many other pages are being removed quoting violation of Facebook terms.

Saad Warraich at Teeth Maestro tells how he tried to test Facebook by creating a page named ““H | T L E R”. The page was soon disabled by the Facebook administration quoting ‘violation of Facebook Regulations’. To test how Facebook values freedom of speech, the “Everybody Draw Mark Zuckerbergs Mother” Facebook page was deleted only after 18-likes so it seems freedom of expression ends much closer to home.

Jehan Ara at In The Line of Wire writes that instead of speaking up in a civilized fashion Pakistan authorities are acting in a bizarre way:

Instead we do what people have come to expect from us. We stifle our own voices by banning a social networking site where 2.5 million Pakistani could have been heard. We hide our head in the sand like ostriches. We react like little children do – closing our eyes and pretending that if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

Jehan Ara expresses her feelings with this poem:

I think I have the sense (as do most Pakistani users)
To decide what is offensive to me
And to deactivate my membership if i so wish
Or to counter the offenders with my own viewpoint.
Then why the blanket ban of so many sites?
And why the nasty & disgusting threats
Against those who condemn the offensive page
But want the right to deal with it in their own way?
When will we learn tolerance?


  • cucumucz

    Well Pakistan is not property of handful of Netizens. Pakistan being a moderate Islamic country ( more than moderate than Saudia , Iran so-callled Islamic countries) has right to ban which is against the Quran and Sharia which is supreme Intent of Allah ,should be followed by all Muslims who call themselves Muslims.The constitutions is Pakistan is nothing more than a detail of Quran and Sharia.

  • Abdur Rehman

    A special thanks to the “Draw Muhammed Day” team.
    We are proud and
    heartily pleased to announce that 37 Non-muslims have converted into
    Muslims after Islam gained popularity by “Draw Muhammed Day”.

    For more information and details about “people converted to islam” follow us. We will keep you updated.


    “34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events of
    September 11, and this is the highest rate reached in the U.S. since
    Islam arrived there.”


  • The bans are stupidity. Why don’t they ban tobacco first?! That’s one of the most problematics.

  • […] context also helps explain the extent to which moderate and cosmopolitan Muslim Facebook users who believe in free speech against censorship were so alienated and upset by the fact that Facebook allowed the […]

  • […] got worse when a Lahore high-court slammed a ban of the entire Facebook domain and the netizens protested against the blanket ban. The government changed this decision later and promised to monitor popular websites including […]

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