Death to ... Mark Zuckerberg?


Britain's Register reports that the Facebook founder might be indicted.



What's happening?

Pakistani authorities are investigating the Facebook founder after discovering the "Draw Mohammad" contest that was posted to the social networking site last month. In Pakistan, any action deemed sacrilegious against Mohammad is punishable by death. Muhammad Azhar Siddique, a Pakistani lawyer, alleged that the owners of Facebook violated section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code and has pushed for an investigation into the alleged crime.

But don't update your Facebook status yet -- no charges have officially been filed. And to clarify, it wasn't Zuckerberg who launched the contest, but rather a German woman who used the pseudonym "Andy."

It was Comedy Central's censorship of a derogatory South Park episode that sparked the brilliant idea for the contest. In April, the famously offensive program mocked Muslims who threaten to kill non-Muslims for depicting the Mohammed. It also presents a cartoon of Mohammed disguised in a bear suit. According to reports, the "Draw Mohammed" contest was a reaction to the controversy stirred up by the show. It attempted to show Muslims that they -- and their prophet -- were not immune from satire protected by freedom of speech.

That tactic didn't work so well. Now, Sidiqque is waiting for Pakistani police to contact Interpol about arresting Zuckerberg in California. Authorities are even considering a complaint to the UN General Assembly. If Zuckerberg is arrested, he'll await his punishment in Pakistan.

But Zuckerberg isn't the only target. After the South Park show aired, its producers--Trey Parker and Matt Stone-- were threatened on Twitter and Zachary "Abu Tallah al-Amrike" Chesser reportedly tweeted: "May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity.", a website based in New York, posted a "warning" shortly after the episode aired: "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show." Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, made a short TV film called "Submission" which documented the stories of four Muslim women. While praying, each woman tells God of the sexual and physical abuse she has endured from men. According to The New York Times, the film's protagonists have "traces of lashings" and Koranic verses about women inscribed on their bare skin.

In 2004, van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic extremist.

What's next?

According to Brookings Institution Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown, probably not much. Siddique may be pursuing the case because both anti-Americanism and extreme Islamic values are fairly popular in Pakistan. "Islam is very much a political tool to be played with," Felbab-Brown says. "There is a lot of support to be gained by those who espouse extreme values.... Capitalizing on anti-Americanism is a good political move." Still, she'd be surprised if the case reached Pakistan's Supreme Court. If it did, the executive office--despite its weak influence among Pakistanis--would quash the case before Zuckerberg could be summoned. Despite the tense relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, proceeding with the case would be "a frivolous move" for the administration, which "has a lot to lose by antagonizing the U.S. administration."

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Elizabeth Weingarten is an editorial assistant at the New America Foundation. A former Slate editorial assistant, she also previously wrote for and produced the Atlantic's International Channel.

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