Pakistan loses young Facebook friends

Raza Rumi was quoted by the Australian here:
The Lahore High Court banned access to the social networking site on Wednesday after conservative Islamic lawyers argued the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day page was blasphemous. Hours later the state extended the ban to YouTube and by Thursday morning BlackBerry services had been pulled as fusty bureaucrats got wise to its Facebook application.
Before the end of the day BlackBerry services were restored under pressure from corporate and political heavyweights who, notwithstanding their religious devotion, drew the line at interference with business.
“Text messaging and Facebook are incredibly important in Pakistan because they are the only way many young people can keep in touch and form relationships,” said Lahore-based blogger and TV producer Farzana Fiaz. “There are no clubs or pubs here. Socially it’s very segregated and if you’re seen talking to a boy neighbours will talk and it could get you into a lot of trouble.”
Ms Fiaz, a British-born Pakistani, said she was torn. “I have seen on Facebook (she has found a way around the ban) that a lot of my younger, more liberal friends are totally opposed to the ban and see it as an infringement of their civil liberties and even their human rights,” she said.
Raza Rumi, editor of liberal Friday Times and founder of the e-zine Pakistan Tea House, described the ban as “ludicrous”. He had no argument that the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day campaign – reportedly a response to death threats against the South Park TV show creators for depicting Mohammed in a bear suit – was offensive to Muslims.
But the ban “only makes the Pakistan establishment look stupid,” he told The Weekend Australian. “It’s triggered a chain reaction because now YouTube and Wikipedia are banned, BlackBerry was temporarily banned and hundreds of websites deemed blasphemous against the prophet are also banned. So where do you stop?
“It’s all about control. Our worry is not about blasphemy but that such decisions may turn into instruments of control.”
So what would Mohammed have done? Adil Najam, the blogger and social commentator who raised the question, said the one thing he was “absolutely positive of, is that the prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) would not have done what we are doing now: making an international public spectacle of ourselves”.
“Most likely he would have just walked away. He might have negotiated with Facebook on the basis of their own stated rules. Nearly certainly Mohammed would have handled it with grace, composure and maybe even a touch of good humour.”
A good example, perhaps, for all involved.
“Then there’s the other side who are resentful of anything said against the prophet Mohammed and against our religion.
“My take on it (the Facebook page) is mischief-making and there’s no need for it but the Pakistanis on this side are equally bad because they won’t look at these things in a sober light.”
Raza Rumi, editor of liberal Friday Times and founder of the e-zine Pakistan Tea House, described the ban as “ludicrous”. He had no argument that the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day campaign – reportedly a response to death threats against the South Park TV show creators for depicting Mohammed in a bear suit – was offensive to Muslims.
But for Facebook, the domain of a younger, less influential crowd, there was no reprieve.
The bans highlighted growing divisions between Pakistan’s large conservative core and educated modern secularists who want personal freedom.