Pakistan to Twitter: ‘Yes we ban’

BANARAS KHAN AFP/GETTY IMAGES A Pakistani resident reads a message on a cellular telephone referring to the blocked social networking … Continued

BANARAS KHAN

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A Pakistani resident reads a message on a cellular telephone referring to the blocked social networking Web site Twitter in Quetta on May 20, 2012, after the country’s government blocked the site. Pakistan temporarily blocked Twitter, saying Twitter had refused to remove posts promoting a Facebook competition involving caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed.

My friend in Pakistan was unable to tweet this quote on May 20th: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Yes, it was over 140 characters but the bigger reason was Pakistan’s ban on Twitter.

Why was the popular site banned? Because social media activists were tweeting to promote a Facebook page titled, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” That posed a challenge for the Pakistan’s telecommunications regulators who view such activities as blasphemous. The government banned Twitter for eight hours.

In America, the rallying cry to confront challenges in America is “Yes we can!” while in Pakistan, it seems the government’s refrain is “Yes we ban!”

I witnessed the birth of this impulse to ban opposing views in 1988, as a Pakistani citizen, when Salman Rushdie released his book “The Satanic Verses.” Due to its offensive material against Prophet Muhammad, the clerics politicized the issue. The book was banned.

Of course, the ban did little to protect the honor of the prophet and as international outrage compelled many governments to ban the book, the attention shot it to the top of the New York Times’ best seller list.

Then in 2006, Danish cartoons of the prophet provoked thousands in Pakistan to pour onto the streets, oozing with a desire to “Yes we ban”
Danish products. The move caused more damage to the image of Islam than the Danish economy.

When a group launched a Facebook page in 2010 urging people to draw Prophet Muhammad –a move deemed offensive by Muslims worldwide including myself –the Pakistani telecommunications regulators pulled the plug on millions of its country’s Facebook users in the spirit of censorship.

Since similar campaigns cropped up on YouTube, and blocking over 450 individual links in 2006 was not enough to suffocate dissenting voices, the authorities swung their attention at YouTube. The site was blocked for two weeks.

In 2006, when the movie Da Vinci Code was released, it stirred local religious sentiments again. Eager to show their love for Prophet Jesus, the clerics issued an edict …you guessed it: “Yes we ban.”

It is true that these media bans were subsequently lifted by the Pakistani authorities. But what was not removed is the mindset by which many Muslim leaders solve the challenge of blasphemy.

Safeguarding the honor of Prophet Muhammad is the overarching goal behind such bans. And as a Muslim, I believe I am more committed to that goal as compared to these clerics. But my approach follows the “Yes we can” logic.

In 2010, I began outreach to U.S. colleges, churches, radio shows and community groups, answering questions from non-Muslim Americans about the life and character of my prophet. I found an overwhelming majority of Americans to be magnanimous, respectful and accepting of my beliefs.

If Islamophobes can use modern means of communications to further their agenda, why can’t we as Muslims also use blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to educate the world about our view of Prophet Muhammad’s character?

How many people in the West know that after sustaining two decades of mental torture, physical hardships and social bans, when the prophet entered Mecca in 630 CE with an army of 10,000, he asked: “O people of Quraish! What do you think I will do to you?” Hoping for a good response, they said, “You will do good. You are a noble brother, son of a noble brother.” The prophet then said: “Then I say to you what Joseph said to his brothers: “There is no blame upon you. Go! For you are all free!”

Martin Luther King Jr. was right. The ultimate measure of this man named Muhammad, the prophet revered by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, also lies in the stands he took at times of challenges and controversies. Sometimes his own companions were puzzled as to how they could respond to hate with love, anger with self-control, blasphemy with pardon and atrocities with forgiveness. But the prophet led the way with a “Yes, we can” attitude.

Muslim leaders today should do the same.

Dr. Faheem Younus is an adjunct faculty for religion at the University of Baltimore. He blogs at www.muslimerican.com.

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  • ccnl1

    A SAFE AND EASY SOLUTION TO PAKISTAN’S PROBLEMS:

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi—–

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    “1. Belief in Allah”

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    “2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.”

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gi-b G-nab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a “crea-tionist”.

    “3. To believe in the existence of angels.”

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and “tin–ker be-lls”. Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    “4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”

    Another major it

  • SODDI

    In the past 11 years, I feel I have been “educated” enough about Islam and its mythology for a lifetime.

    Maybe you Moslems might want to educate yourselves about western civilization and living in a pluralistic society. After all, you expect their benefits – time to shoulder some of the load of maintaining and preserving them.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    One point that American Christians continually trumpet that I will have to concede (and this is a rare, rare occasion), is that the scrutiny devoted to Christian fundamentalism in the US is entirely disproportionate when compared to the sparse criticism directed at its far more violent, totalitarian, and apocalyptic counterpart in political Islam.

    The rhetoric casually expressed in this article amounts to nothing more than a smiling defense of the worst brand of state-sanctioned barbarism that exists in the world today. Make no mistake, political Islam will remain a force for censorship, oppression, discrimination, and murder as long as ‘moderates’ such as this author do not receive the ridicule that they deserve. They provide a buffer between rational criticism of Islam and the extremist fringe when they put on a friendly face and remind us that criticism of their beliefs is still taboo, no matter how many atrocities against women, peace, and civil society they might entail.

  • ccnl1

    The nitty-gritty of Islam:

    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 ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations 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, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, 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 crises:

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

  • Anonymous
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