Pakistanis divided after Facebook banned over Mohammed cartoons
Issued on: Modified:
When an American cartoonist posted a fictional poster on Facebook suggesting that "Everybody draw Mohammed", she was not expecting it to result in street protests, a boycott, and a court order banning the social networking website in Pakistan. Alas, she was wrong. Two of our Pakistani Observers give their reactions to the nationwide and indefinite ban, and the Facebook group that caused it. Read more...
The group that caused the ban.
When an American cartoonist posted a fictional poster on Facebook suggesting that "Everybody draw Mohammed", she was not expecting it to result in street protests, a boycott, and a court order banning the social networking website in Pakistan. Alas, she was wrong. Two of our Pakistani Observers give their reactions to the nationwide and indefinite ban, and the Facebook group that caused it.
The controversy began after an episode of the American satire show South Park was censored by Comedy Central for including an image of the prophet in a bear suit. In response to this censorship, 49-year-old Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris posted a fictional poster that included, amongst other things, a teacup and a cherry claiming to be Prophet Mohammed. She called, jokingly, for an "Everybody draw Mohammed day" on May 20.
The poster went viral and was picked up by news agencies. On April 25 Norris was interviewed on a local radio station - something she says she now regrets. The interview subsequently inspired Facebook user Jon Wellington to set up a group called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" In under a month, the group had attracted 80,000 members and over 7,000 pictures had been submitted.
Unsurprisingly, the group was not received well by Muslim Facebook users. A torrent of angry blog posts appeared online and a Facebook group entitled "Against ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' - May 20" soon attracted 38,000 members. In Pakistan, angry web users turned their attention towards Facebook itself for allowing the group to exist. Not only was a group launched to boycott Facebook (ironically, on the website itself), but street protests sprang up across the country, attracting the attention of the government. A temporary ban was put in place by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) on Tuesday. The very next day, after pressure from a group of Islamic lawyers, the Lahore High Court ordered a total and indefinite ban on the social networking site.
On Thursday afternoon the Facebook group disappeared, but only temporarily. As this feature went to press it was available.
“Muslims have always been prone to emotional discourse which provides immense pleasure to our enemies”
Adnan Ali is a social media strategist from Lahore, Pakistan.
I will not be supporting any boycott by Muslim users of Facebook, nor shall I support any block or ban by the PTA.
This is a media war. Muslims have always been prone to emotional discourse which provides immense pleasure to our enemies. Moreover, boycotts are going to leave the social media space open for those who hold incorrect beliefs about our Prophet PBUH.
This is another organized attack, just like the original cartoons. They know how we will react to such outrageous behaviour. They know that our blood will boil in emotional outrage and then we will destroy our own properties, kill our own citizens and provide another blow to our weak economy.
Instead of promoting the blasphemous content by adding the link to my status message and creating groups and pages that showcase this content, I would create a Facebook group or page to praise the Prophet Muhammad PBUH."
“I hope that Facebook administration will remove the page, it’s inflammatory and insensitive”
Adil Najam is a Pakistani professor of international relations at Boston University. He writes for the blog, All Things Pakistan.
I hope that Facebook administrators will remove the page [Everybody Draw Mohammed Day]. Not because of any ‘banning' movement, and not because of the Lahore High Court. Just because the page and the idea behind the page is inflammatory and offensive. Regardless of what your belief or religion might be, to throw out offensive and hateful vitriolic for the simple and primary purpose of hurting someone else's feelings - when you know that (a) those feelings will be hurt and (b) when hurting those feelings is really the only purpose of doing what you are doing - is inhuman, cruel, and clearly offensive. If Facebook does not recognize that, then it knows nothing either about ‘social' or about ‘networking' and certainly not about ‘community'.
But at one level it matters little now whether Facebook removes the offensive page or not. The page and its creators have already fulfilled their purpose: seeking attention. And it is we ourselves who have helped them do so. "
Protest against “caricature day”
Students from the International Islamic University of Islamabad chant “We are ready to die for Mohammed!” Afterwards a speech is given about love for Mohammed and conversion between father and son. At the side, a man holds a poster which reads “We stand against caricature day”. Video posted on YouTube 19 May by”atipk111”.
The group that sparked the outrage
Screengrab taken 20 May 2010.
The poster that sparked the group
This is a version of the original poster that was subsequently scribbled over by its creator, Molly Norris. The original illustration is in black, the amendments are in red. Posted by Molly Norris on her website.