Pakistan Internet Censorship: In Defence of Sanity


The past few days I have been bombarded with questions regarding my stance against Internet Censorship. Most of them have accused me of all sorts of things, starting from being partner in blasphemy to running a campaign for money and fame. I am afraid like many other misconceptions, there is a huge myth is Pakistan regarding Bloggers or journos for that matter being heavily paid. I wouldn’t deny that there aren’t many who are being highly paid, but unfortunately I am not one of them. Neither am I aiming for it. So let’s just drop the ‘money and fame’ bit please?
Also I must clarify I am not a “CIA,MOSSAD,RAW,ISI agent being funded by the JEWS” and any chances that I might have had at it are now gone, since almost everybody (who choses to disagree) has made such claims. So I trust you all watch movies and so must know that “CIA,MOSSAD,RAW,ISI agent being funded by the JEWS” are suppose to be discreet and keep it low key, but thanks to all your love I don’t stand a chance. This post is about trying to clarify my stance and will most probably be my last word about this discussion. This post is going to be in a question answer format. I hope that after this post you (you know who you all are) will stop badgering me with pointless questions.

You support Facebook means you have no love for the Prophet?

No, of course not. In fact nobody has the right to determine my relationship with God, the Prophet (PBUH) or my take on religion. My stance against Facebook ban in no way suggests that I don’t love the Prophet (PBUH) or I am partner in blasphemy.  I believe my love, my religious belief and devotion is NOT based on or affected by such petty things. Facebook or no Facebook I believe in respecting beliefs of every individual religious or otherwise. I may strongly disagree with the “Draw A Muhammad Day” campaign, find it provocative and degrading but that still doesn’t give me the right to decide how others should react or protest to it. I don’t believe in jumping on the bandwagon, and unity for me is not about acting like sheep but  about respecting diversity. To sum it up, I DONT SUPPORT FACEBOOK, I oppose the ban because I believe everyone has the right to chose how they want to react to the situation. No one should have the right to decide how an individual choses to react to a situation, except the individual in question.

So does that mean you think Facebook has done nothing wrong? You believe they are innocent remember the holocaust page was removed in twenty minutes?

I have never made any statement suggesting that Facebook is not guilty. Primarily because I don’t work for Facebook so I don’t have the authority to pass such statements. Secondly, because I do believe Facebook is guilty and at fault. I do believe that they have been indifferent to the feelings of many worldwide. I am disappointed by their stance and their inability to approach the issue in a mature way. The little respect I had for them has been minimized to almost none, after their statement of banning the page from Pakistan alone. I mean freedom of speech? forget the Holocaust page. A recent page named “Everybody Draw Mark Zuckerberg’s Mom Day” was deleted with in days even though it had only 19 likes. So much for freedom of speech?

But despite strongly disagreeing with them I still do not have the authority to decide for the rest of the country. Also I doubt the intentions behind the ban. I mean why shouldn’t we? The ban has moved on to become a blanket ban on almost all social media platforms, what’s next the internet? (Maybe yes sigh!)

Are you doing this for fame and money? Why are you so bothered?

Ok let me clarify one thing, I really really hope I was as highly paid as you all think (claim) but unfortunately (for me) I am not. Not everything is about money and fame, somethings can not be measured like that. If you are passionate about something it is worth a million things or priceless perhaps. I am passionate about social media because it has provided me with a platform to identify myself to a larger audience,connected me to people who are like family now, allowed me to change Global perceptions about my country and my religion and most of all it has given me my own little world (virtual) where I can speak my mind about almost everything.I am bothered because I am being deprived of all this and  made to suffer because of the mistake or choices of others ?how fair is that? OK Alright enough of philosophy lets get it straight I DONT EARN AS MUCH AS YOU THINK I DO SO CUT IT OUT WOULD YA?

Ok Alright I get it this is not the right way to protest. But would you tell me what the ‘peaceful,constructive and right’ way to protest is huh huh miss-know-it-all?

(Someone recently called me Lady Gaga of Pakistan I prefer you stick to that, miss-know-it all is old and not so appealing)

So in my post I purposely did not mention ways in which we could protests. Why? because the post clearly states that everyone should have the right to protest in the way they think best. Do you want me to dictate you? Ok alright, we could start with numerous options,

  • Deactivate your Facebook account but before you do that make sure you let the Facebook team know exactly why you chose to do it. Make it crisp and clear and devoid of emotional dribble. Tell them you don’t like their face (just kidding) , tell them you no longer want to be a part of a social network that doesn’t respect your privacy and shows indifference when you are subjected to hate mongers.
  • Ask your friends living abroad to file a petition against Facebook. Pressurize Facebook admin to issue a statement and explain why they have been violating their own terms and conditions.Let it be known that you are a force to be reckoned with (not to be threatened by) and that it is about time they show some respect.
  • Create Pro-Islamic groups to educate people why depiction is not allowed in Islam. Explain to them why such extreme reactions are always seen. Take the opportunity and change global perceptions about Islam may be. Bottom line pour some sense into people, rather than getting enraged and losing the point altogether. If the other party has freedom of speech you have freedom of expression too, so let both parties use it without inflicting harm to each other.
  • To each hate monger reply back with a message of peace and love. Come to common terms with them, tell them it’s about respect. Doesn’t the Quran say:

“Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.” [Qur'an 7:199]

“And the servants of Allah . . . are those who walked on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they      say ‘Peace’” [Qur'an 25:63]

“. . . But they uttered blasphemy . . . if they repent, it will be best for them, but if they turn back, Allah will punish them.” [Qur'an 9:47]

Emphasis remains on *Allah will punish them* not *thou,you,believer*
And my most favorite one which fits perfectly
“Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” [Qur'an 16: 128]…

Alright I’ll quit being a scholar now. But you do get the point no?

Didn’t you say we should ignore them? Will you ignore someone who hurls abuses your way or to your mom and family huh? But when It comes to the Prophet you chose to ignore you you INFIDEL.

(Ok stop calling me that I told you lady Gaga is better. Do you ever listen? wait don’t answer that)

Yes I wrote a post before the campaign as forewarning to people to not be incited by this group. I wrote a detailed post (for which I researched all night long so you better read it!!) giving background on the situation. I particularly questioned the motives of the campaign and it was not until the end of the post that I addressed the muslims and Pakistani’s to not let this provoke them. I suspected that was the intention. I also suspected that the outrage will work in their favor,which it did and they gained over 30,000 followers after the ban. Alright Alright I’ll stop being a psychic now but it’s not my fault now is it?

And yes if someone would start calling me or my family names on the street and I know for a fact that it’s an attempt to provoke me to react,I WONT. Don’t you think it will piss them off more if they can’t get under your skin?

So Lady Gaga Of Pakistan, since you seem to know everything, Why don’t you tell us what to do next?

Are you even listening to me? Wait don’t answer that too. I or anyone else do not,should not,never had,will not, should not have and can not (yes I am really bad at grammar)  have the right to tell you what to do next. But yes I can suggest, I suggest we stop judging and attacking each other. I suggest we stop being so pessimistic and blinded by hate. I suggest we sit down and think, is a blanket ban really wroth it? Why should we allow a bunch of people who clearly have no respect for us, have the right to deprive us of social media platforms we could use for our benefit.  What benefit you may ask:

  • PYA Pakistan Youth Alliance is possibly the countries largest youth organization has raised over  750,0000 and supported thousands of families most of it through campaigning and networking on Facebook.
  • Remember the Judicial Crisis? It was then that people like Awab Alvi and Sabeen Mehmud became the voice of reason. Advocating for civil rights, for justice yours and mine. The same people have now been questioned and threatened only because they chose to stand up against banning of the same tools they had used to reinstate judiciary and to raise hue and cry about the human right violations in the country. Show some respect please!!
  • How would you know about Imane Malik? Saad Khan? and many others if it wasn’t for citizen media. The mainstream media would cover alright but are they in any position to run a campaign for justice by a common man?
  • Look at these guys, who have made us proud by making it to the finals as the Top 2010 Finalist in “Democracy Video Challenge” . These are people who are truly helping in changing our Global Image. With YouTube being blocked they are losing out on their votes. Do you want to silence the voice of change?

*These are only a few there are many more examples

You guys it is not about facebook it is about your fundamental rights to decide what you want to access. We can not block out all the evils in the world, but we can win them over by providing great things using the same platform. Let’s not be quitters and let’s not leave the battlefield (I know I’m emo)  just yet. You want to leave Facebook? Please do but don’t let others decide that for you. Decide that for yourself, as individuals, it will send a stronger message.  Let’s drop Facebook out of this debate, it’s not about it only, it is about censorship. We should stand together for moderation but against censorship. Afterall if censorship was all that ‘they’ cared about the first thing to be banned and blocked in the Islamic Republic would be porn?

PS: For those who continue to hate, please listen to this might help you heal. Works for me!

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49 thoughts on “Pakistan Internet Censorship: In Defence of Sanity”

  1. Assalam u Alaykum :)

    MashaAllah BRAVO Sana!! Now I can just forward your article without having to make the effort to explain ;)

  2. There are a lot of things that I like and agree on this blog, but your take on this topic is unfortunately not one of them !

    I hate to judge so i’ll keep my comments to a short “I disagree”. Oh and there is nothing political about this topic. It purely personal !

  3. A thought provoking post Sana. Very well done.

    Well, you are lucky that you could only think of being called an agent of RAW, Mossad,, or ISI.

    I was declared an Aetheist by one of our elders when during a debate, I opposed the belief of Syeds that girls of Sadaat family are not allowed to marry a person outside Sadaat. When his arguments ended, he simply said “Muzaffar, I thought you were a reasonable peron, but I am sorry to say that you are just an atheist.

    So don’t worry about those titles. Keep up the good work.

    Muzaffar

  4. So what contributes to blasphemy? In Pakistan every sane and logical voice is dubbed blasphemy even Jinnah had to face these zealots who are the self-proclaimed custodians of Islam. The blasphemy laws must also stand true for other religious minorities such as Ahemdi’s or Hindus who are ridiculed and persecuted in Pakistan venomously.

  5. I totally agree with the slogan “You can suggest but can not tell an individual” for this current issue. But there are certain situations where u hv to TELL (kehtay hain kuch bhoot sirf latoon say hi utartay hain — baaton say nahin :-{ )

    Moreover the link (zahid ne) was great. Tks

  6. Very good post Sana. I have replied to two people above which would’ve given you idea that I agree with what you said in this post.
    While reading the last post, I recalled (what we read in history books) how our Prophet (PBUH) used to react when somebody had done something wrong to him.
    The famous incident of a jewish woman who would throw trash on Prophet while he was on his way and he never changed his course and let that lady do what she wanted and never compaint until one when no trash came out of her home! Inquisitive, he went to her home to find out that she was seriously ill. He spoke to her inquired about her health and showed his respect and concern about her. She was so impressed that it is reported that he embraced Islam at then.
    So, this is the Sunnah of our Prophet (PBUH). I wish our so called preachers who preach us to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) should also realize about this Sunnah as well.

    1. Hey thank you for your comments :) I think we should all appreciate good things. You can probably discuss with PYA what you don’t like abt them :)

  7. Sana, first of all, I tip hat for your effort (even though I am wearing none right now)
    Your stance is what I have talked about so much. These are little things, they don’t mean much. I ask those ‘Islamic’ people, What Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would have done if such occurred? Did he spread violence? Did he kill the blasphemers? No…Never…Islam was spread by Love, Peace … not SWORD.
    I want this mentality to prosper in us, specially the Youth.
    I supported Boycott in terms that we could’ve done counter movements in peaceful way, as you said creating pro-Islamic pages/ group/ events. Using your status updates to promote Islamic teachings. Explaining the message of Islam peacefully to your Non-Muslim friends, also making them aware of the misuse of Freedom of speech etcetera.
    Once again Sana, I appreciate your effort. May peace be with you.

    S. Zeeshan Ahmed

  8. “No one should have the right to decide how an individual choses to react to a situation, except the individual in question.”

    if everyone has to decide what he / she want than what is the purpose of state, religion or government?

    China is the world’s largest nation. and i think they are the most unite nation. why don’t you read china’s law and policies. than you may realize what are responsibilities of government and nation.

    facebook ban is totally relevant to the constitution of Pakistan. and if you oppose it you are actually act again your constitution.

    i am not saying you to be a good muslim. but be a nation. hope u understand. thank you

  9. Superb post!! This is exactly what I have been trying to prove to my peers, that this is not the right strategy!

    And trust me, I have been bombarded with more or less the same questions by people. I really didn’t know how to respond when they tell me if someone abuse my father, how would I react, but you just gave the guiding light.

    The only difference is that I supported the ban of facebook (at government level only, “boycotting-Facebook-for-one-day” was utter rubbish to me), until I discovered that hundred of other sites are blocked as well. Recently I found that you can’t search “Muhammad” keyword in Google. I was trying to google some material for my assignment but wasn’t able to, next thing I did was to open Yahoo and typed the string, and the first thing Yahoo returned were the blasphemous sketches…

    In a nutshell, I don’t think we are going in the right direction by banning one site after another!

    Good work!

  10. Good post sana, but what i feel is that we are unable to understand the other point of view. You may be getting rude responses by your ‘friends’ but they still have their believes. See the larger picture and think why we cannot live without facebook/youtube just for 10 days. Its just a way to protest, just like you have your way, our government thought this is the right way.

  11. I have always admired and loved your work and thankfully, i feel relieved to read your current blog and find that maybe i am not so weird in thinking in the same breadth as yours. :)

    For all those people accusing you of this or that, are they really following the sunnah of the Prophet ( may peace be upon him). Or are they just gung ho about the cartoons? Is hollering about the cartoons a way to redeem their lost conscience?

    I have a lecture by Shaykh Kamaluddin to share on this issue. give it a hear:

    [audio src="http://ifile.it/mtp2bz6/05-20-2010%20-%20Cartoon%20Controversy%20-%20Is%20Banning%20Facebook%20The%20Solution%20-%20EKK.wma" /]

    Click on “Request download ticket” and then click on “download.”

    He talks about how we get offended when someone makes fun of the Prophet’s zaahiri (physical) sunnah but we ourselves are “living cartoons” because we think that the zaahiri sunnah is unnecessary. When we ourselves don’t care about the zaahir then why do we care when non-Muslims make fun of Rasulallah’s saws zaahir. A must listen and thought provoking lecture (given at LUMS)!

    For those who want to know about the Shaykh, click here: http://www.islamicspirituality.org/

  12. yea porn’s still up and that is another jews roduct to ruin our youth.
    concerning all over the facebook or any other thing there are +ve as well as negative aspects. here in pak we have TOO WISE people who always choose the negative one .
    now bann on facebook is another part of our pure neech politics i would say
    do visit http://www.millatfacebook.com and check out their partners.well facebook,orkut or any other social site containing these kinds of thing are not right anyhow facebook should have respected our religion too.

  13. Tch tch! No hate comments yet? You must be losing your “fan”following. :)

    Awesome post. You sum up just about everything that we (against the ban people) want to say. Thank you for so aptly explaining it.

  14. Hey, I totally agree with you! Facebooks down but porn’s still up. Don’t stop writing, we need to be heard, the rest of the world only sees the religious fundos burning american flags and chanting up and down the streets, no one knows that the educated, peaceful and respectful Pakistanis who can think for themselves even exist!

  15. fb sould have listened to muslims.when we dont have any right to say anything to jews so they even dont have
    *and if facebook was so nuetral..he would have blocked tht page not letting it to gain such publicity !

  16. Muslims in general and Pakis in particular need to learn to understand that just because they think something is wrong does not make it wrong. Facebook is 100% right in allowing “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” because it does NOT violate their terms & conditions or any rule of law based on rationality.

    This arguement that “muslims find it offensive” is absurd. The Kalima in Islam states that “there is no god but Allah”. Now is that true? No it is not because Christians have Jesus, Sikhs have Wahe Guru, Buddhists and Jews have their own gods and Hindus have millions of them. So what does muslims accept from Non Muslims? That we dont accept our god as God because Islam finds it offensive?

    I support this EDMD campaign because it is an opportunity to explain muslims that we all have funny things in all our religions but that does not mean they have to be implemented. Muslims need to learn this and live with it just like we have learnt to live with Muslims!

    1. Dear Mark,

      I agree with you on the rationality part. Rather I’d like to thank you for nicely explaining it using the Kalima! In fact, in my opinion our Prophet (PBUH) came to this world not to eliminate other religion but to wipe out the menace of social injustices and crimes against humanity! That’s the reason why Qura’an has always separated the Ahle Kitaab (the holders of divine books) who were the major religions in Arabia at that time, from the Mushrikeen of Makkah (the disblelivers).
      I also agree with you on FB’s has a right to allow this page but I would add that they’ve proved to be biased and impartial! Like this article states there have been pages that have been removed by FB because those pages were spreading hatred against some particular groups! And I think FB should treat all religions, groups and people equally. Their policy should be based on justified, equal and fair treatment with everybody! This is what Islam is all about. This is what every religion is all about! Justice and equal opportunity for all.

  17. Great post Sana! I can’t help but agree with Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) when he suggested that there might be ulterior motives behind this blanket ban. After all, other Muslim countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia have banned just the controversial pages and not entire websites.

  18. Haha. Next time someone says Zionist, CIA, FBI, etc are funding you, simply reply by saying, “So?”. This is a good way to piss off most buggers.

    But be careful whom you reply this way, as you know some people are ummm… funded by Zionist, CIA, and FBI. Lol!

    Anyways, to be honest, Pakistanis love conspiracy and would jump on any boat that is offering one. They do not want to believe in facts, because if they do, they simply get bored and have nothing left to do. To keep themselves occupied they will either join some protest, either start typing hate remarks, go for the..ummm…”Poondi” or start watching *I hate to say it* P***. This is why it isn’t banned, I wonder if LHC Judges are enjoying it as well.

    Look at the situation in this way. Most parents tell their children to do something rather than sit and do nothing. They take these remarks in the wrong way, and start doing something by joining *useless* protests (since they can’t get a job) and so on, instead of actually doing something positive for the country.

    It is said anyone can buy people for the protests and is true. It saddens me what this country has become, a toy!

    Also note that facebook didn’t force anyone to visit that group. These people should have known that facebook is owned by a Foreigner and he will run it in any way he wants. If you don’t like it, simply leave it. One doesn’t need to go crazy.

    What we need is Education, if half of our country’s population was educated, I am sure these protests and hate remarks will stop occurring.

    1. Dear Nakodari,

      Correct observation. While reading your I was thinking in my mind the main cause of all this is happening in Pakistan and to Pakistanis is because of lack of education and your remarks ended on the same point.
      Last night I heard on news the Sindh Education Minister saying “half of the teachers are on vacations while the rest are on strike”… And a documentary on Geo that says WB had provided US$98 million to Sindh government for school reforms and only the government was able to utilize only a fraction of that money in one year. Since the creation of Pakistan, the education sector is purposely ignored by our “leaders and policy makers” just for the sake of their own vested interests. I am sorry for being a conspiracy theorists like many fellow Pakistanis but by looking at what you see, I think this is a fact!

  19. “CIA,MOSSAD,RAW,ISI agent being funded by the JEWS”

    LOL…I swear if I had a penny for every time someone’s suggested me to go kneel before my Zionist masters in the last week, I’d be rich by now!

    Oh by the way, I can access Youtube now.

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