Facebook Drama and More

When this silly drawing page started on Facebook, I didn’t make anything of it. I mean, seriously, there are so many anti-Islam pages and groups on FB that spout all sorts of nonsense about Muslims and their lives that to take notice of one or any is to drive yourself crazy over nothing at all. In fact, any attention given to these ‘waste of anyone’s time’ pages only brings more web traffic to them and gives them more clout on the Internet.

Now, what does irk me a lot is to see how some people in the west are getting their panties in a bunch over finding ways to rub the Muslims the wrong way. Sarcozy in a frenzy over the face veil; the ban on the ‘burka’ in Belgium where only a couple of dozen women (out of some 500,000 Muslims) take the full ‘niqab’ or face veil; the mayor of a French town going crazy over a burger joint’s decision of putting halal burgers on its menu in some Muslim majority neighborhoods; and now this pointless ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ page that was started as a reaction to the banning of a South Park episode, where the Prophet (PBUH) was portrayed in a bear outfit.

All of these acts fall under the guise of either secular government policy or freedom of speech. What confuses me about this is that under the first category, nuns and Sikhs should also be required to change their appearance, just as the burka clad women (which, hasn’t happened so far). And, under the second, FB should block this ‘Draw Mohammad’ page in Pakistan, just as it has blocked pages that deny the holocaust in countries where it is a crime to do so. I haven’t seen this happen either.  Therefore, am I to believe that secularism and freedom of expression are selective?

What’s really ironic is the fact that these are the very people- the paragons of liberty and progress- that are doing unto the entire Muslim world what a handful of barbaric tribal warlords from the mountains did unto them. That is, criticize their lifestyle choices. As far as I recall, it wasn’t me that said, ‘off with your heads for listening to music!’ Then why deny me my halal beef patty in a little restaurant in France. I certainly don’t see local bodies taking up arms against the numerous vegetarian and kosher restaurants that are ‘challenging’ France’s secularism by the same logic.

This nonsense of secularism exists only as a shield against any sort of change, especially when the change comes from the Muslim world. India calls itself secular, yet you have the BJP there that runs a riot all the time. The US is supposedly secular (separation of state and church and all that jazz), yet you have an influential Bible belt and the Republicans. Try and drive through middle America and the villagers of Pakistan will start to look more progressive. Switzerland bans minarets but has churches with steeples. These are not actions of secular states. These countries are merely preserving their own culture, tradition and religious symbolism in the face of something new.

Anyway, after ranting about the myopia of some, I have to say something about appropriate reactions and responses to this kind of incitement. To come back to the FB ‘Draw Muhammad Page’, I think that the ban imposed on FB by Pakistan’s Lahore High Court was just plain old silly. The LHC had no business getting involved in this online fracas.

For starters, how ridiculous is it that as the whole Muslim world ignores this issue, the Pakistani government takes it upon itself to put aside all civilian issues of priority such as electricity failures, target killings, enforced disappearances, and the ongoing war, to sort out this Facebook page matter. The fact that the government has even requested an enquiry into the matter is just preposterous.

Does the Pakistani government really think that by banning Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia and Gmail that people all over the world would suddenly change their opinions and convert? Or that, perhaps, if our foreign minister were to casually meet the owners of that page over tea and samosas that those guys would actually say, ‘aah, we see your point!’ I mean seriously, who are they kidding?

I think ignorance is bliss sometimes. It would have been best to ignore this page for then its fate would have been similar to my resume’s. It would be lost in the dark hole of the Internet, never to see the light of day again.

If the page had to be fought against, then everyone should have supported the ‘Anti Draw Muhammad Day’ page, which, by the way, did have many more members and ‘likes’ than the said controversial one. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

I really wish that sometimes we as Pakistanis (the government included) would stand up for ourselves using our brains and not our hearts. We should not let the guilt of being the ‘silent majority’ make us do moronic things like this, which, ultimately, are futile.

3 thoughts on “Facebook Drama and More”

  1. Good piece — I do think having spoken to a lot of people out here — that while initially I’d thought it felt like a selective “attack” too, for a lot of people that was not their intent. They simply couldn’t fathom how something they deemed so absurd could provoke such an outrageous reaction — ie dont these countries have more important issues … See Moreto focus on? So by de-localising (widespread FB support) of this page the msg they wanted to send out was “OK now you dont really have 1 group you can have an extremist reaction towards – just take this at the absurd face value, its meant to be levelled at, bcos are you really going to react against the whole world?”
    Not the most genius techniques and completely mishandled by both sides since – taboo subjects should be handled with sensitivity and discretion – but the whole FB drama has really gone OTT on both sides since.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *