Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Ugly Face of Facebook

Background
Facebook is not banning a page that was started by a miffed female artist. The page is called 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day' and it's purpose is to propagate the fact that artists are free to express themselves, and they are not going to bow down to Muslims' "radical reactions and threats." The lady (called Molly Norris) hence began this competition, and she based it on the recent attempt of Comedy Central's South Park episode which had to be censored (because they showed ... Oh Naoozubillah! :(... Prophet Muhammad saww in a bear suit).
Good for the Muslims revolution group (whoever they are, a pat on the back to you guys) who threatened Comedy Central with dire consequences, hence putting an end to that particular episode. So much for the background.


The first interview
The lady Norris Aunty appeared on the Dave Ross show (a radio show) and talked about her launch. The weirdo part was that she didn't sound like a very ... erm, intelligent person, and basically sounded confused. Is she really behind this? Sounds fishy.

Hear for yourself.

One amazing thing she says, when asked whether she would approve of people ridiculing the Holocaust.... she says, "No" .. when asked WHY? The answer is: Cuz that's not funny!

Ha Ha Ha!

So why isn't FB banning the page? (pages NOW)
Well, listen to this: Fox News reports...

A Facebook spokesman told FoxNews.com it has no plans to censor any of the pages associated with the campaign or the counter-campaign, though threats will be removed.

"Threats of violence and direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and are removed when reported to us," reads a company statement to FoxNews.com. "Facebook is highly self-regulating, and users can and do report content that they find questionable or offensive.  Groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs -- even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some
(ooh what a clausie, mind if we express some opinion on the Holocaust???) -- do not by themselves violate our policies.(I seem to find it weird then that why were pages related to protests in Karachi and Holocaust banned? Removed within... days?)  When a group created to express an opinion devolves into threats or hate speech, we will remove the threatening or hateful comments and may even remove the group itself. (so how about you remove the offensive cartoons and pictures that are uploaded by the hundreds on the several Draw Muhammad pages now? Show us that you DO follow your policy)"

The Reaction
Predictably there was a huge uproar in the online world first and then the offline world. SMS and Facebook again played a strong role in spreading the message across to millions, so even the most disconnected of people deactivated their FB accounts (before the govt banned it) in a show of protest. Today various protests were held in Karachi regarding this issue. Furthermore, news reports reported more protests across the country. (at least we are protesting physically against this audacious move!). One of the cool things is that an anti Everybody Draw Muhammad Day FB group had more members than the actual event one: check this news report: *beams*

As of Wednesday, more than 41,000 Facebook users associated themselves to one page dedicated to the event, and a similar page was "liked" by at least 4,400 users. More than 56,000 users, meanwhile, joined a Facebook page opposing it.

The verdict... here
In Pakistan, Facebook has been officially banned. According to a report I read, Pakistani traffic comprises a mere 0.51% of the total world traffic to Facebook. But the good news is that we're not the only country which has banned the social networking website. China, Vietnam (and 5 more countries) have blocked FB some time or the other. We're not the only ones.

Waisay, I feel that when we're standing before Allah SWT on the Day of Judgement, we really have at least one thing to say, that yes, when this issue came up, our government took some action and 0.51% boycotted the website for about 11 days :S. Hope that counts :S

Now: Molly Sahiba's 180 degree brain turn
The second interview: Hear it out
She reports on her website now: My comments in brackets.

I did NOT 'declare' May 20 to be "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." (Oh yeah? Could have fooled us. The poster you made Ms Molly clearly said May 20th and clearly named the Day, and clearly named a fictitious organisation. What was the idea behind this poster? A mere joke? I think not!) 

I made a cartoon about the television show South Park being censored. I wish that was what our energies were going toward -- protesting revolutionmuslim.com's threat to Comedy Central, and Comedy Central's over reaction to it which set America on a slippery slope toward censorship!     (Now look here Ms. What Comedy Central was doing was also not acceptable for us. You see, we don't believe in ANY jokes when it comes to our religion's personalities. And highly esteemed personalities. South Park's lil joke could have been not aired in the first place and saved everybody a whole lot of trouble and time!)

At any rate...my cartoon-poster, with a fake 'group' behind it (Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor -- sigh, I WISH that were a real group as I love the name of it!) went viral and was taken seriously. (Look. Your intentions are counted by your actions. And your actions clearly indicated (especially that poster you made!!!) that you were poking fun at the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). If you didn't intend it, then you needn't have done it.)

I apologize to people of Muslim faith and ask that this 'day' be called off.
(Ms, with all due respect. You have actually started something which doesn't intend to stop. You may very conveniently back out of it. But take a look at this:


Fox News: Mimi Sulpovar created her "Everybody Draw Mohammad" Facebook page on April 22 to protest what she calls the "manifestation of gradual silencing and subjugation" of free speech rights in the name of political correctness. "I and members of my group feel that we, as citizens of the free world, should be able to discuss Islam openly and honestly -- even if it means drawing Muhammad, being very critical of some of the elements of that religion and/or culture," she wrote FoxNews.com in an e-mail. As administrator of the page, Sulpovar said she moderates users' comments and removes any references to violence or bigotry in their posts. She said she and others in the group have received death threats, but she has no plans to stop anytime soon.


(So you see Ms, she has no plans of stopping any time soon! And whose her inspiration?? Three guesses? And this is not the end to what the lady above said. Take a look at this: 


"Our goal is to demonstrate that it's OK to talk about Islam specifically, and that if we want to draw Muhammad, we will not be intimidated or silenced by those who want to subjugate us simply because they find what we do offensive," Sulpovar wrote. She said she's received about 200 depictions of Muhammad, and more than 300 caricatures have been uploaded to her page. She said she plans on continuing the campaign well after this week.
(So you see, this one-off cartoon wasn't just a one-off thing. And yes, you're not exempted for your act by just backing out and claiming everything was a joke. How did the Danish cartoons go as jokes? Didn't their reaction show to you what sentiments to touch and what not to touch? Here is another one you inspired:


Reason.com's blogger Michael C. Moynihan says he will be contributing artwork and will post fans' work on his site as well. The fictional group Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor now has its own site that already contains some irreverent illustrations of Muhammad (Fox News)

(Oh, and screw all of you who are mad at me for not leading a 'movement'. My cartoon was the beginning and end of what I had to say about this particular episode of a totally creepy, historic censorship.)

(Oh, and I heard that. The 'feeling' is very much there huh. However much you try to sugarcoat it as a 'joke'... Ho!)

Sincerely,
Molly

(Even more sincerely, Uni)

P.S. The nicest email I have received have been from Muslims.
(No, that's not going to help. Sorry). 

----------------------------------------------
This done, I must say I was extremely extremely disappointed by Professor Tariq Ramadan's comments in a video posted on Washington post. The interview was pretty much okay. But at the end of it, when he was asked whether South Park did RIGHT in censoring the video and removing the offensive stuff in it... he said NO. South Park wasn't right in doing so. They should have shown it again, they got scared of Muslims' reaction.

He's a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, and a pretty respected scholar. But I fail to understand why he said such a thing. How can he really justify the depiction of the Holy Prophet (saw) in such a derogatory form, I'm clueless. I kept thinking I've heard him wrong, but it's true. Find out for yourself: here

*exhausted*.. Have a nice day folks. And do you think Pakistan made the right move? What would you have done, were you President/Judge etc?



18 comments:

Dur-e-Aziz Amna said...

I'd have buried my head in shame at the thought that a country where millions are homeless, target killing, loadshedding, water and food shortages, disease and terrorism abound, people are concerned with a stupid group.
Seeing this, I know for certain why we have not progressed as a nation.

:)

Anonymous said...

Dur-Aziz Amna,

So not-banning facebook will put us in the G-8 list? or would it be enough for hungry stomachs? or would it keep the target-killers busy on facebook?

I feel sorry for you that Common-Sense is not sold at Walmat otherwise I would have recommended you to shop for it ASAP.

Uni said...

@Dur-e-Aziz Amna
Thanks for dropping by. Nobody is forgetting these problems in protesting against something deeply insulting.

A stupid group? If somebody insulted your parents or loved ones, would you really let them continue? What if they do worse? Right now, it's cartoons, they might be making a whole entire movie on the Prophet and insulting him. And I fail to understand what the Prophet (peace be upon him) has done to these people? Artist bannay kay liay yehee sub reh gya hay kia?

I am sorry you feel that way, but it's not common sense to ignore something just out of politeness to the other party/various other reasons cited by others.

karachiwali said...

Quoting directly from Facebook:
"You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence."
Reference: http://www.facebook.com/terms.php/
under the sub-category: safety, bullet no 7

If it is about freedom of speech then why are they against pornography, isnt that a form of freedom of speech too?

Uni said...

@karachiwali

Facebook (from the recent write ups I have read about its weirded out privacy policy) is slowly proving to be extremely shaky on its own laws. Incites violence is the category where the Draw Muhammad page falls. But of course, they won't ever admit it. This biased attitute sucks and yeah, you're absolutely right.

If you define individual freedom of speeches, then let anybody say anything they want. No limits !

Thanks for dropping by

Dabu said...

First Point:

Muslims have a double standard! We protest, when they depict Muhammad (PBUH) but we never care to protest when they make fun and depict Prophet Isa! What double standards we have.

Second Point:

And yeah rite, banning, blocking, Facebook will stop these people from hating rite or change there opinion? Think again!

Third point:

What we Muslims need is a platform for dialog with these kind of people, to educate them. You never know when they will get guidance cause guidance comes from Allah (swt) and it can come anywhere and any time. this is the time to educate and spread Islam rather than to whin about it :)

Forth Point:

Facebook doesn't care that much about Pakistan, cause Pakistan is not an advertising rich country. Plus we dint provide them with dollars to keep Facebook running do we (in terms of investment)?

Now if a substantial number of users from advertising rich country (USA) were to close there account , facebook would sit up and notice it! Just a fact! Just trying build awareness here!

Fifth Point:

When will we learn anything from the stories of the Prophet, like the lady who used to throw trash at the prophet regularly and how did the prophet react? That tells me something, that Good Manners, patience and Ikhlaaq are the key to change ppls heart, not banning, protesting!

Sixth:

I am in no way saying, that we dont need to take action, we need to, but the way we are taking action is not going to result in anything positive. Dialog and educating will however show us to be civil and will paint a true picture of what a Muslim should be!

Seventh:

It is good that it is banned in Pakistan and maybe muslims will not protest now ! cause when we muslims protest, we tend to be violent and someone ends up dying.. for no reason.. So maybe this banning will save some lives, keeping my fingers crossed here!

Eighth:

Last but not the least, we should condemn the doctrines of extremism within our religion with vigor. We should get to the depth of where is this extremism coming from.

Dabu said...

you said five other countries banned facebook .. can you list them and the sources... ?

Uni said...

@Dabu

Thanks for dropping by, and for the opinions.
Answers are in numerical order of questions

1. We would never condone this act either. This point is analogous to: Hey, why are you protesting to Man B's murder when you didn't protest on Man A's murder! One act is not dependent on the other.
Second point here is that they have the whole entire concept of Jesus wrong (as compared to the Islamic point of view). In a similar wrong-viewed way, they have depicted Prophet Moses as well. Muslims THUS don't feel that these depictions are a PERSONAl insult to Islam, because they are based on their own interpretations.

Where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is concerned, no religion other than Islam believed in him, or believes in him. Hence when they target him, Muslims feel anger more. It's not double standards, it would be if we SUPPORTED the depictions/insults of other Prophets. We do NOT.

2. Banning and blocking is our way of protest. National protest. It may not make a snit of a difference to them, but it makes a difference to us. The reporting of that offensive page made NO difference. THEN we proceeded to the next level. Not before.

3. Yes, we do. That is correct. However, if they so blatantly insult this deen, then how can you expect Muslims to sit down on a table and say: Yeah throw eggs at us and we're just going to open our mouths and swallow them! Educate and spread Islam is also fine at this point. Protesting is not going to hinder that! Take a look at forums. There you will have the opportunity to argue/debate. Nobody's stopping this!

4. As I said. It's not about harming FB. Why would it? It's about not using the service because FB hurt OUR feelings and insulted OUR Prophet (by okay-ing the offensive page). Btw, if ALL Muslims did it, it WOULD make a huge huge difference. That's why, this action (performed collectively) could have had a tremendous effect.

Uni said...

5. You confuse the times when Prophet (saw) was strict about a particular situation, and the times when he was not. He PERSONALLY did not care about people insulting him in the Meccan days, and when his companions saw anybody insulting/disobeying the Prophet, they would always intervene and try to stop the person.

There is this story of Hazrat Umar (ra) and how he was allowed to kill a man because that man had not accepted the judgement of the Prophet (saw) and came to him for re-consideration.

Here, the carricatures are INSULTING to the Prophet. How can we not react?

6. Dialogue is welcome, however, protesting is a right and can be practised. Prince Harry had to apologize publically for wearing a Nazi costume at a PARTY because it hurt the feeling of Jews ... Here is the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4170083.stm

7. Violence is never propagated, there is a difference between peaceful protests and senseless violence. So far, the protests have been peaceful.. Alhamdulillah.

8. Yup. Nobody should kill/insult/hurt any innocent human being. Agreed.

The countries that have banned FB are: China (permanent), UAE (blocked it temporarily - we're not the only ones), Vietnam, Syria, China, Iran. (Source: When Wikipedia is unbanned in Pak - if ure from Pak - then do check its Facebook article out).

And for your second comment:
I mistakenly thought that the countries had blocked the site for this very issue. But since this information was (mis)heard in a protest as part of a speech :)

Adnan Siddiqi said...

I usually don't endorse such responses but "Anonymous"'s respond to Dur-e-Aziz is classical and could not be better than this.

Why do we all of sudden we became intellectual and philosophical when it comes to Islam?

The post by Adil sounds good on paper but far away from reality because Adil did not advocate similar thing when suicide bombers or Talibans were imposing their views. So how come one could be so aggressive against a group while so polite and apologetic for other? For me it's hypocrisy and cowardness rather making sense. Using Muhammad for own sake is another wicked thing which I usually come across daily on Internet.

Where does Muhammad(saw) go when it comes to follow Him for Salat, reciting Quran,opposing Music and others? Though Iqbal said this for molvis but today it fits well on self-acclaimed pseudo intellectuals who are learning Islam from media.


Khud badaltay nahin Quran ko badal detay hain

Huway kis darja faqeehaan e haram bay-taufiq

Adnan Siddiqi said...

Facebook caught sending user data to advertisers.


mashable.com/2010/05/20/facebook-caught-sending-user-data-to-advertisers/

Uni said...

@Adnan Siddiqi

I agree with what you said about dual policy. Should have also included in the post, but didn't think on this angle. It's very true that when it comes to talking against Islamic 'fundamentalism', these people (NFP will have a field day with his column now waisay), are WAY quick to condemn, and agressively condemn the points of view. And when it comes to anything that's being used to ridicule Islam, a very meetha meetha approach and MA Seerah references crop up !!

Thats the reason why i was disappointed in the views by such a great scholar Tariq Ramadan. His comments were also all sweet syruppy regarding the issue. The provokation is going to continue, and escalate into full fledged downright insult if we don't stand up and protest NOW.

Um, I didn't understand the second misrah of the shair you posted. Thanks for dropping by and the views. I was glad to note you did not bow down to the ridicule you received on Mr Adil's post :-)

Adnan Siddiqi said...

Uni,

The media has given many "psuedo intellectuals", many of them are being "religious" too by wearing Hijab and beard and became "e-Mufti" and don't hesitate to criticize People of First generation just because they have read up few Islamic books. Knowing many of such intellectuals personally,I am just surprised that whether there is any word which is more stronger than "Hypocrisy" which I can use for them?

As far as shair is concerned:


faqeehaan e haram


Experts of Fiqh are called Faqeeh and here Iqbal meant Experts of Islam

Bey Taufeeq:Ignorant



did not bow down to the ridicule you received on Mr Adil's post


I know Adil and his blog for last 4 years. Infact when he started out his blog, he had asked me to write for his blog as well. he quoted one of my post in his blog. later I made a post for his blog too. So I am one of early author of the blog but at that time I did know agenda of his blog which was revealed later. several times i was banned on the site but I did not give up , result he is tired and does not ban me anymore.

And what you call "ridicule", I consider it as an honor. I am not a good Muslim but on Judgement Day when Allah will ask whether I tried to speak on behalf of Him and His prophet then I would atleast not be seeing here and their dumbfoundedly

Sadaf Alam said...

JZK Khair for your article. It answered many questions I had about the issue, because I'd been out of things and couldn't quite understand the fuss against FB. And I totally agree that though it may not make any difference, it is up to us to put in our individual part by registering our protest, which is what we will be answerable for on the Day of Judgment.

Uni said...

@Adnan Siddiqi

Thanks for the explanation. The 'ridicule' is ridicule in THEIR eyes (which is why I used the word), but yeah it's not. And regarding what you said about the honor part, and that you will be answerable about your actions/arguments online, you know, way way back (2004-2005 I think), when Orkut was the rage, I was into a LOT of arguments in forums.

Then :S, I was convinced by a lot of people (deeny basis pay) that one shouldn't waste time arguing with ignorants because that would lead to nothing and infact, there is a Quranic Ayah that says that one shouldn't argue and pass on saying 'peace on you' etc. One of the characteristics of 'Rehman kay banday' .. So I stopped. Lately, I have realized that if we do so much stuff online, why not spare some time letting your opinion be known - so that at least your voice/comment is recorded in your amaal nama and is there!

Thanks for the reminder.

Uni said...

@Sadaf Alam
Well, JazakAllah for dropping by :)

And yeah, I'm glad you see things this way. Many people are just talking about what the Holy Prophet (saw) would have done and how he tended to forgive those who personally insulted him etc. I only wish they'd understand that the companion's behaviour towards insult to the Holy Prophet (SAW) was not such a meetha one and they always always protested, unless explicitly told not to by the Prophet (saw) himself.

Thanks for the comment !

Adnan Siddiqi said...

@Uni:

20000% agreed about what Hazrat said about arguments.Even elders forbid "Muzahira" with non-Muslims as its like hurting them while negating their faiths. this is why I don't listen zakir naik anymore.

And why am I doing it? i think your blog is not the place to say everything, will mail you sometime its quite irrelevant

Uni said...

@Adnan Siddiqi

Okay. Well I was talking about arguing just for the sake of arguing. And scholars who debate with western non-Muslim scholars do have a very healthy debate and there are many people who have converted to Islam due to their discussions. So I am not against that.

Also, it is not any different from say, a Tableegh mission to a remote county of Africa and preaching Islam there. Btw, Ahmed Deedat (who Zakir Naik studied a lot and even copies his style) converted thousands in South Africa.

Thanks for the commnet.