Friday, May 21, 2010

Facebook & the unfortunate King

Long time ago, there lived a king who ruled a small state. The state had deep conflicts with her neighboring states over the boundary issues. The king was a fair ruler and man of justice who always considered his public’s benefits first. It was all fine until one of the neighboring opponent states launched a pre-planned propaganda against the king. They first sent immoral comments about the king to him that annoyed the king. He immediately stopped imports from those neighboring countries that caused problems for the public. In agriculture, they highly depended on the neighboring countries so there came the shortage of fruits, vegetables and other crops. The enemies then sent their agents to the state in order to speed up the anti-king campaign. When the king came to know, he started killing the agents and blocked all the boundaries, confining the state. Now, the exports were also stopped which caused an economic breakdown. The remaining agents started to misguide people about the king. Therefore, the king started killing his people who were reached by the agents. The conditions turned critical and eventually, the state was shattered by drought, hunger, economic collapse and bloodshed. The state disappeared from the pages of history.

The recent blasphemy issue of Facebook reminded me of that state’s story. An evil group on Facebook launched an event and invited the artists worldwide to draw sketches of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which is a very disgusting act against the Muslims. Throughout the world, Muslims are protesting while Pakistan is leading the front. For this evil act, Lahore High court has banned Facebook in Pakistan for indefinite period. Following the order, websites like Youtube and Wikipedia are also banned by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for “growing sacrilegious content”. It may seem emotionally correct but let’s have a look rationally.

According to an estimate, Pakistan has more than 25 million internet users. In this 25 million, majority is of students, journalists, doctors, bureaucrats, writers, researchers and other professionals. Wikipedia is one of the prime sources of information for students, journalists, researchers and others and over 75% of internet users log on to Wikipedia for information. Be it an academic assignment, news or an article, Wikipedia is one of the most reliable information websites. Wikipedia provides the most accurate and detailed information even when you search a less-known personality of your country. The website tells the background, career, date of birth and even place of birth about a personality. The website is highly trusted and the information is published on unprejudiced basis.

Now I come to the point. When I needed to search the history and backgrounds of the famous personalities like Nazia Hassan, Aitizaz Ahsan and Shahid Afridi, no Pakistani website provided me detailed information but Wikipedia. There is no complete encyclopedia website in Pakistan that could serve the Pakistanis. Banning Wikipedia has created a critical situation for students and professionals who needed information. We’re so dependant on the others that we’ve never made any information and video portals. In this situation, is it correct to ban such websites?

As I said, the present situation reminds me of that unfortunate State that was destroyed by her neighbors. Same as the king did, the Government started with banning Facebook, then Youtube and Wikipedia. There are thousands of other ways that these anti-Muslim elements could use. Let’s see that the government will ban Google, hotmail, yahoo and other websites too. In the end, internet will be blocked in Pakistan and Pakistan will move back to decades. The evil elements will also try to spread their unethical messages through TV, so the government will first ban the channels and then the TV too. I also expect the government to ban all the art schools in the country so that nobody could draw Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)’s sketch. Déjà vu it is.

Is there some other way too? Yes. We have proved ourselves true Muslim nation who don’t compromise on our religion but is only banning such websites a solution? There are thousands of other channels from where the blasphemy messages can be reached so there’s no reason of banning the websites. On the other hand, we have to step ahead and make information portals of our own. In this way, banning won’t even affect us.

Anyway, we have to keep protesting about such disgusting acts but rationale also matters. We have to find the ‘Solution’ instead of what the king did to his state.


  1. After reading this, I have so many things that pop up in my mind, they might as well make up a whole new article... Nevertheless, here's the summary of what I have to say:

    Number One: There are two sides of this story.

    A) I double you when you say that the ban is bad... But only that I have a different reason to say so. I believe that the ban is an act of total cowardliness. Initially, when that particular page on Facebook was banned, it was nothing but sheer stupidity. With the page banned in Pakistan, the number of people that could have reported the event got lessened. The ban of complete Facebook and other websites is nothing more than closing your eyes to your problems and assuming them to be solved when they're not. Running away doesn't mean victory, because whether we see it or not, the event is still up there and is being celebrated, especially in the absence of the Muslim community.
    And the people who are talking the most will be the first ones to use Facebook again, as soon as the ban gets off!
    Personally, I'm against the ban on Youtube, as it has numerous how-to and other informative videos, and documentaries etc. I took immense help from it for both my personal and academic purposes.

    B) However, there is an equally strong point that can justify the ban, esp on Facebook. It gets its huge chunk of users from the Middle East. The ban of Facebook in the whole Muslim community can put a huge economical set-back to Facebook. They have become a complete business and they even might face loses to an extent that they have to shut down their site. But this is only something that is assumed and has not been proven yet.

    Number Two: There's nothing wrong with Wikipedia to be banned. It was a 'highly' unauthentic site and getting information from there was equal to fooling yourself and others.

    Number Three: The story of the king fits perfectly to the situation. Whatever the artists were doing on Facebook, was not because they particularly hate Islam. It was mainly for the reason to ignite us and to see how we will react emotionally to this issue. With the Muslim community not there to protest, they won't have any charm in whatever they are doing. They could have made those cartoons at their homes, or in their communities secretly, but hey, where would be the fun in doing that?
    There is a proper reason behind putting up that event publicly on Facebook, and we, with our minds wide open, should try to see that reason, instead of reacting emotionally to everything.

    Number Four: TOO MUCH OF FACEBOOK ALREADY!! Where are the hell is everybody lost when innocent people are being killed on the roads, or any other wrong that takes place within our society?!?! If we all think we have done a great job by getting these websites banned, then we are nothing but poor ignorant people. If you think you have the power to stop the wrongs from happening, would you please stand up and solve the innumerable problems that we are facing currently???

  2. Well, Pakistan has around 2.5 million population of facebook that is 0.2% of the total population. We much loss we gonna make for them being 0.2%? Its just cowardness to ban websites. They'll find some other website for that and we'll be banning one after another.

    I appreciate your detailed and valuable comments.