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May 21st, 2010
09:41 AM ET

Opinion: Pakistan should ban extremism, not Facebook

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

For a country that has produced five military dictators in 60 years, mourned the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and struggles continually against its own militant extremists who have killed thousands in their own nation, Pakistan has absolutely picked the wrong fight by banning Facebook and YouTube because of an idiotic virtual campaign called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

According to a story on CNN.com, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube - a day after it shut down the social networking site Facebook - after an online group called on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed. In response, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered its operators to shut down YouTube "in view of growing sacrilegious content on it."

Instead of knee-jerk political reactions and impassioned threats of violence, as proud millennial Muslims we should reflect and ponder how our Prophet Mohammed would have responded to such silly faux controversies.

Read the full column

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. maryam

    First of all, it’s really easy to sit far-off and criticize and it’s very difficult to even think of bringing revolution here. I accept the facts that he has written about our country’s government. That was the bad luck for Pakistan, we didn’t have any good leader like QUAID-E-AZAM but some leaders were somehow better than others. And military dictators didn’t come wishfully; they’ve been compelled by the infighting and selfishness of our politicians and didn’t have any other way except martial law. But nobody can support military rule and it is a fact that worst democracy is better than military rule. It is a high time now; our politicians must understand that no military dictator can come without their support. the By saying this “Pakistan has absolutely picked the wrong fight by banning facebook and youtube”, I disregard this statement because that was a good step taken by Muslims, somebody has to start to and if we have taken this very step, people should appreciate it. Do not think of what we are, and our so called democratic government policies, by not even thinking a single mistake, instead we should start. I am very much disappointed that if anybody takes step in sake of Muslims, everybody else there knocks him. Who would take step then? We should provoke such steps taken in Pakistan, because we really need to wake up.

    As far as certain facebook issue is concerned, whatever Denmark started on facebook, I would say that they always want to degrade Muslims, and they won’t spare any chance of insulting our holy prophet MUHAMMAD (P.B.U.H). Arsalan wants that we shouldn’t condemn such activities and let them do whatever they want to. That was an extreme act in respect of our PROPHET, and why should we tolerate such hideous and idiotic campaign. Arsalan thinks that what our PROPHET did in such situations, we should do the same. That incident is mistakenly understood. He did nothing for himself, He was being violently cursed by that women but did nothing. He did much for Muslims; it can’t be explained in words. But now its time we got a chance to do something for Him. That was an extreme act taken by non-Muslims, and it would be shameful if Muslims would not have taken any step. By banning facebook, if people think we are extremists, and then I would love to be call an extremist, I don’t care what people perceive, but that’s clear we cannot tolerate anything about our beloved PROPHET MUHAMMAD (P.B.U.H). They should know that we really love our PROPHET and won’t let anybody do any such acts against Him. Arsalan quote that incident happened to our PROPHET, according to him as our PROPHET did nothing, we should copy Him. But let me clear we are doing this for our PROPHET not for us, if anybody has started campaign against Muslims, surely we would do nothing. But here it’s the matter of insulting our PROPHET. How can we be so dumb and numb regarding our PROPHET MUHAMMAD (P.B.U.H)?

    Whereas it is part of our eman that ALLAH ALMIGHTY has protected the life and sunnah of our HOLY PROPHET(P.B.U.H) till the day of judgment, and whosoever will dare to (ASTAGHFIRULLAG) degrade HOLY PROPHET(P.B.U.H) , his/her life will be made miserable by the Muslims. For example salman rushdee and tasleema nasreen.

    When ABU-LAHAB, the real uncle of HOLY PROPHET (P.B.U.H) abused Him by saying that you’re both the arms will be broken. ALLAH ALMIGHTY immediately send wahi of surah lahab which is part of the HOLY QURAN and will be read till the day of judgment, that means ALLAH ALMIGHTY didn’t tolerate the ABU-LAHAB’S verdict, then how can any Muslim tolerate any mischievous act against their PROPHET (P.B.U.H).

    I have read that by banning facebook here in Pakistan, they’ve lost nothing, instead they gained much money. We don’t care, because we are not here to cripple them economically. By doing this, we just proved ourselves, and showed them that how much we love our PROPHET, and will not accept any harsh acts against Him.

    I have heard that our government did this on their own interest, I am not sure but I think they did this for themselves because there were some parodies and funny stuff regarding our politicians. Whatever their intensions were, we don’t care, we just care that whatever we did was a good step. And denish people will know that we aren’t sleeping, and we really care about our PROPHET.

    But the thing which disappointed me, our government again opened facebook, and that’s why I don’t trust my government at all, they do everything for their interests. We didn’t really matter for them. It’s useless to talk about them. In other perspective facebook was destroying our youth; everybody uploaded their albums even of their wedding, if there are pictures on facebook that means our pictures are on net, because there are many ways even to cut privacy. Our youth become addicted to facebook, and I think the step taken was also in sake of our youth. That’s another issue.

    Arsalan criticized badly in last Para, I would say that he has been discouraging us, such judgmental people degrades us, criticizes much on their own country. They just say a lot but do nothing. If he thinks our land isn’t pure then he should come to Pakistan to purify it rather than criticizing by living in Washington. Instead of criticizing and repenting on our previous mistakes, one should start himself a little step and see how it becomes a miracle, we shouldn’t stop trying. That’s what Muslim is.

    We don’t even bother what Wendy chamberlain has said. But he just pointed terrorist activities in our country, it’s really a misunderstanding that we have grownup such terrorist, they are not Muslims at all, they came from India or somewhere else, this is a big program planned by our enemies to cripple our society. Of-course I will not go into detail of it.

    Finally I want to say that I know we are not a perfect nation, infact we have been affected a lot by our leaders, we are not in a good time, and now we have to wake up. One has to take step, and in this situation I would appreciate such steps that we just banned facebook. Because our nation wants some boost up.

    July 8, 2010 at 6:59 am |
  2. Reality

    Islam 101

    Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current problems:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    May 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  3. shumaila

    i really agree wid waseem,,,,very true..who dont like facebook shudnt b using it right but blocking it is of no commonsense......

    May 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  4. shumaila

    oh plz open up facebook.....they shud have blocked the group instead.....its no use blocking any social site....

    May 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  5. Rizwan klair

    brother waseem yar i am a teacher of english literature and i am a very moderate person. i have a gathered a lot of material from you tube and have numerous links on facebook. i know these sites are of an immense use for everybody but i found no allay thats why i said 'these sites should be banned forever.

    May 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  6. Rizwan klair

    Being not a muslim but also being a human being i protest and condemn the authorities of facebook who helped these so called liberal people who have celebrated the day........... i even cant name the day when the humiliated the whole muslim community around the globe. i dont have words to condemn. i just want make these specific people not to tease and torture us anymore. lastly i admire my high court who banned these sites. and i hope it ll remain banned forever. this is the least we can do for our beloved holly prophet P.B.U.H. n to hell with you arslaan iftikhar....

    May 23, 2010 at 11:25 am |
    • Wasim

      Mr. You really think banning these websites would help your cause. no way dude wake up. You can't take the right of the people who wanna access these sites within Pakistan or can you ???

      May 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  7. Wasim

    Banning Facebook and other websites violates the basic human rights i.e access to information. You can not go on and ban whatever you don't like and openly pledge support for the extemist. The act of drawing cartoons was Blasphamist, no doubt, but Prophet Muhammad would never have wanted His followers to do the same. He forgave the very woman who used to throw trash at him. So wake up Muslims and start building your character because whatever has happened is not because of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) It IS because of you, MUSLIMS !!!

    May 22, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  8. alex

    Most americans are extremely sick people in their mindset, which can be attributed to their upbringing without any families. 90 percent of americans dont even know who their father is, this was expected from them. I suggest muslims should ban all western propaganda media like facebook and youtube. Support chinese media like baidu.com.....its already the worlds most popular website, because they know how to respect others!!

    May 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • Rizwan klair

      alex i dont know you but being a muslim i am very pleased by your words. you have soothed me and i am in your debt. we should all pay respect to each others religions. in such a way we can make the world a happy place to live in.

      May 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  9. Umme Omar

    Well said Rubik. Molli Noris' mama forgot to teach her that if she hit her head wiith the wall, the wall is actually going to hurt her. If there are some Muslim extremist out there, why does she want to make them angry? She is an extremist because she is provoking violence.

    May 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  10. Page Faulkner Mordecai

    I know Molly Norris, both as a friend and as my former college student. I also live in Seattle, WA, ground-zero for the ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ cartoon she created. I believe this issue has morphed into something more than The First Amendment Right: it is about Political-correctness, which has now reached a critical mass.
    Although I can’t read a cartoonist’s mind (yet), but after reading over 2,000 blogs on the subject, I believe that neither Molly Norris nor anybody else could have predicted the firestorm of vituperative commentary and protests-for and against how our ‘First Amendment’ Rights should be expressed and against whom. I am certain that Molly Norris did not intend to offend Muslims and has apologized profusely for having done so, believing naively perhaps, that this is our primo American Right.
    However, This is not the first time (or the last) our freedom of expression has become incendiary, either (when the Ku Klux Klan expressed their “right” to march in the Jewish suburb of Skokie, IL; Rodney King and LA riots, for eg.).
    Political-correctness, however, is the bigger issue, I believe. As a practice, post-seventies, this is nothing less than propaganda in action. Political correctness aims to censor us all: to say what sounds right, instead of what is right; to say that all opinions are diverse and equal, rather than some opinions have been earned through educating ourselves first.
    Just because everybody CAN say whatever they wish, without the responsibility of using their real names, or the chance to respond in a reasoned dialogue, doesn’t mean that they should, as Molly Norris, in fact, did.
    I know I sound like a Luddite here, but the internet network of blogs, Face Book, and the like have taken political-correctness to new heights, without all the original fuss-and-muss of speaking to each other in person, and owning what we say.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  11. ModernTemplar

    I couldn't agree more! Extremism is a barbaric form of expression equal to territorial dogs who just bite others with no sense at all simply because it was his little known territorial space. Like people with limited knowledge of his religion and expressing it by blowing people up, intimidating civilians as if their muslim opinion do not matter, or seeding hatred among likely less educated muslims.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  12. souleye

    i strongly believe that this article is misguided. The issue is not with Pakistan. It's with Facebook and all of those uneducated people who think that free speech precludes moral responsibility. Sure, it's easy to try to ignore them but the clamor is gonna be so deafening that you wonder where you're gonna draw the line. The prophet Muhammad did say 'if you see something that's not right, you got to do something about it'. How do you define 'something'?

    May 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  13. hurp n' durp

    Muhammad (poo be upon him)

    May 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  14. michael

    I respect Muslims for thier faith I think it would be productive to point out the few people of non faith who spend every second of thier lives using litigation, courts lawyers etc... to force the rest of us to take faith out of society.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • Protip

      It's a shame faith doesn't find its OWN way out of society. Hopefully it will be escorted out of here someday, even through courts.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  15. Nomad

    Today there is virulent propaganda against Islam in the international media, in international newspapers and magazines, on radio broadcast stations and satellite TV channels. A section of the media is attacking Islam, and this has reached epidemic levels especially after eleventh of September, 2001.

    This is not the first occasion where the media has been used as a tool to malign Islam.

    On the 30th of September 2005, one of the Danish newspapers (Jyllands – Posten) published 12 defamatory caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which included images of the Prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse and showed him as a knife-wielding nomad surrounded by veiled women. These drawings were later reprinted on January 10, by a Norwegian evangelical newspaper “Magazinet” in the name of defending “free expression”. These sparked boycotts and demonstrations against these acts throughout the Muslim world. Islam prohibits any depiction of the prophet (pbuh), even if it is done in the right spirit, as such images could possibly lead to idolatry.

    Recently, an interesting article appeared in the ‘Guardian’ (weekly newspaper of the UK) on Monday, February 6, 2006. Three years ago in April 2003, a Danish illustrator Christopher Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ, to Jyllands-Posten. However, the cartoons of Christ were turned down by Jyllands-Posten on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were surely not funny.

    A British historian David Irving was recently given a three-year sentence on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Holocaust. (The Times of India, February 24, 2006). The report urges us to contemplate why is “freedom of expression” conveniently forgotten when it comes to topics that may hurt a section of this world?
    The punishment for blasphemy in most of the major religions is death. It is stated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is the authority for both the Jews and the Christians:

    And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: [Book of Leviticus 24:16]

    Moreover, if we read Manusmriti, the Law book of the Hindus, it says:

    “If a man born of a lower class intentionally bothers a priest, the king should punish him physically with various forms of corporal and capital punishment that make men shudder.” [Manusmriti 9:248]

    Regarding the punishment for blasphemy in Islam, it is mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an:

    “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;” [Surah Al-Maidah 5:33]. In Islam, a person who has committed blasphemy can either be killed or crucified, or his opposite hands and feet can be cut off, or he can be exiled from that land. On the other hand, in other religions there is no other option except capital punishment. Islam at least has four options of punishment for an act of blasphemy.

    In spite of all the negative propaganda in a section of the western media, ironically Islam still happens to be the fastest growing religion, not just in the west but also across the world. The more people try to suppress Islam, the more it will prevail. Allah (swt) will make His Deen (Islam) to prevail over all the other ways of life irrespective of people mocking and ridiculing His messengers. As Allah says in the Glorious Quran:

    “Mocked were (many) Messengers before thee; but the scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.” [Surah Al-An’aam 6:10].

    May 21, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • David Webb

      Followers of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are not taking their scriptures concerning blasphemy literally. They are not out to implement censorship or seeking to kill people who conduct blasphemy. It may hurt when someone insults my religion, but I know that God would be much more offended if I acted in a negative way because of that hurt.

      I do agree with your statement about Holocaust denial. We should not criminalize Holocaust denial, we should fight it with facts and education. This way we also protect freedom of speech.

      If we can accept that there are many ways to God for those seeking God we would all live a more tolerant life. Also, tolerance should extend to those how do not believe in God.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      David Webb...there is no reason for followers of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism to take their scriptures concerning blasphemy literally and they do not have to implement censorship or seeking to kill people who conduct blasphemy because Muslims never insult anybody's religion or Prophets. But everybody is trying to insult islam.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
    • jim ree

      Sure our Bible says to kill all of you, but at least we are trying to be civilized. So are you saying we should just lay waste to all Muslims? Carpet bomb all of you?

      We were hoping you would come to your senses, though. If you want to ban western media, great!! Crawl back under your rock. We are not going out of our way to use your social media sites, so stop using ours.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  16. imran

    You people are really sick, if you don't know the beliefs of a muslim, please don't comment about it. Being lousy GAY people, you think you care about religion ?

    think again !

    May 21, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • Umme Omar

      I agree with this and previous comment of Imran. it was actually a publicity stunt by Face Book to attract more people. But it is going to blow up in their face soon. face book has many problems with privacy issues. Face book is going to lose more customers. In my opinion people only waste time on face book. I hope Pakistan bans is forever.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  17. Ravi

    I wonder one thing..

    HOW LONG WILL PAKISTAN BAN FACEBOOK, WIKI, TWITTER… Temporary,1 month, 2 month, 1 year or Permanently? Because once ban is removed, the pictures/ cartoons are still going to be there!!! Then what????

    Do they have common sense?

    May 21, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • Protip

      Nope, they don't 🙂

      May 21, 2010 at 10:14 am |
    • imran

      You will see when and how long websites like FACEBOOK & YOUTUBE can live with being banned in pakistan, Just wait a week only. A month or more is out of question. FACEBOOK & YouTUBE both have TOS and yet, they publish against beliefs of Muslims? what kind of free speech is it ?

      May 21, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • Umme Omar

      Ravi yes they do. Facebook was not having sense. Facebook's draw Mohammad day was provoking Violence by attacking people's sentiments. Pakistani govt. blocked it. After sometime these things are going to fade away.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
  18. Protip

    Banning extremism. Oh my god a Muslim with ACTUAL SENSE! The world must be ending soon, oh my mohammed (Poo Be Upon Him) one of them has sense finally!

    May 21, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • Tim

      Hey!
      whats your story? broken home? child-abuse? sheer ignorance? low IQ? Poverty? Racist? some inner deep-rooted complexes?

      May 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      @ Protip ...How much sense does your own comment make? You are not moderate in your views. Your words tell me you are an extremist who wants to inflict spritual pain on your victims. Only sadist, pervert and abusive people do that.

      May 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.