Islamabad : Pakistanis are hopping mad following the ban on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter and the blocking of Blackberry services in the wake of a controversy over a contest featuring blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
Raza Rumi, the editor of a popular ezine, described the banning of Blackberry services as “absolute madness”.
However, on the other hand, the hardline Islamists are out in the streets protesting the anti-Prophet Mohammed cartoons competition that is denigrating their religion, they say.
The crackdown on websites with “blasphemous” and “sacrilegious” content began after the Lahore High Court directed authorities to block Facebook on Wednesday.
“The zealots want us to go back to the stone age. These decisions should be reversed at once. There are other ways of dealing with this issue and not by an absolute ban of connectivity in the 21st century. In any case, it is not easy to ‘ban’ stuff in this day and age.
“Many Internet users have found other ways of bypassing this embargo,” Rumi wrote on his ezine.
Rumi cross-posted a message by blogger Ali Shah, who wrote: “They have banned the entire Facebook domain in Pakistan (and) barred Blackberry services for one ignorant rant? They have burnt the entire village for one bad guy and we must stand up to it”.
The Lahore High Court ordered the blocking of Facebook till May 31 while acting on a petition filed by the Muslim Lawyers Forum against a page on the social networking website featuring a contest for blasphemous caricatures.
Rumi also posted a sarcastic poem that propagated the banning of Facebook, email, Twitter, books, paper, pen and even “thinking”.
“As Muslims, let’s be outraged and have shut down or at least boycott the site that was sacrilegious… then close or at least boycott the pen/then close or at least boycott speech/then close or at least boycott gesture/then close or at least boycott thinking,” said the poem.
Adil Najam, editor of another popular ezine, said he was saddened to write a post on the issue.
“I hope that Facebook administration will remove the page. 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,” Najam wrote.
“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,” he said.
“If Facebook does not recognise that, then it knows nothing either about ‘social’ or about ‘networking’ and certainly not about ‘community’,” he added.
“The one thing I am absolutely positive of, is that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would not have done what we are doing now: making an international public spectacle of ourselves.
“Most likely he would have just walked away and ignored (the ‘look the other way when someone throws garbage at you’ model)…”
“… He might have negotiated with Facebook on the basis of their own stated rules… he might have reasoned with detractors (the discourse and discussion model).
“Nearly certainly Mohammed would have handled it with grace, with composure, and maybe even with a touch of good humour,” Najam added.
Another blogger suggested that if people are offended by the “Prophet cartoon thing, here’s an easy solution for you: don’t search ‘Muhammad + cartoons’. You’ll be fine”.