Pakistani Bloggers React to Facebook and YouTube Ban

Does religious law trump free speech?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The Pakistani government's decision to block Facebook, Youtube and other pages, has drawn sharp reaction within the country. The ban itself began in response to some Pakistanis protesting against a contest on Facebook to draw Mohammad, which violates some Islamic law. But the country's religious hard-line minority doesn't represent everyone. The country has a vibrant and diverse community of English-speaking journalists and bloggers. Here are some of their reactions to the bans.

  • Pakistan's Hypocritically Selective Bans  Huma Imtiaz scoffs, "Cartoons. Yes, they’re apparently a big threat to Muslims. I’m assuming that’s the rationale here that PTA is working on. So tell me, are cartoons a bigger threat than the video of Masood Azhar exhorting Muslims to go for jihad? Or the dozens of other videos on YouTube that feature members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan inciting viewers to wage war against the Pakistan Army, which, if I’m not mistaken, amounts to treason?"
  • Right Idea, Wrong Execution  The pseudonymous Teeth Maestro laments, "I may halfheartedly agree with a particular ban on the offending Draw Mohammed Day page, but I must condemn the across the board ban by Lahore High Court, 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."
  • Why Muslim Community Is Complicit  Pakistani blogger Adil Najam goes deep. "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."
  • 'Blasphemous' Sites Still Abound  Pakistan-based newspaper The International News reporter Moayyed Jafri writes, "Other social networking websites such as Twitter, Orkut, Bebo, Zoosk and Hi5 hosting the blasphemous activity of holding the cartoon completion, have been left totally unchecked which totally fails the purpose of implementing the ban. In addition to the social networking sites, dozens of web-blogs intending to host the blasphemous activity on May 19 and 20 are accessible as well."
  • Punishing 'The Real Culprits'  Ayesha has no sympathy for Facebook or the ban. "Can't we trace the guy who started all this nonsense and send him behind the bars? I agree that 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."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.