Asma Razaq |
Curious as usual to find out who has commented on my latest Facebook post, I opened my account on my phone soon after I got up today. But what I was looking at in my Facebook newsfeed was unbelievable. There was a post from an unknown Facebook page, containing sacrilegious and provocative content against Islam.
According to statistics, the total number of Facebook users in Pakistan has crossed 25 million.
“This is totally intolerable,” the reaction of my grandpa was spontaneous as he almost snatched my mobile phone from my hand and dropped it on the ground with immense anger when I showed him the blasphemous material.
My mobile phone, worth Rs 55,000, had gone but that Facebook post and its inflammatory content was so infuriating that I completely forgot the pain of my broken mobile phone.
Freedom of Expression or Freedom to Insult?
“Why is Islam always made a victim of these detestable elements who, while touting it as their so-called ‘right of freedom of expression’, post nefarious material on social media? Why is there no international law to punish them for such a reprehensible act?” I lamented.
The use of social media tools, especially Facebook, is skyrocketing in Pakistan. According to statistics, the total number of Facebook users in Pakistan has crossed 25 million, including 15-20 million men while 5-6 million women, while more than two third users are below the age of 25.
After the ruling of Islamabad High Court, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has threatened to ban social media in Pakistan.
It is being said in both political and social circles in Pakistan that there is a maliciously dreadful conspiracy behind the inflammatory content against Islam on Facebook and that therefore, after the ruling of Islamabad High Court, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has threatened to ban social media in Pakistan.
Pakistan banned YouTube and Facebook in September 2012 and March 2010 due to the issues of blasphemous content and religiously controversial pages, but is that an effective solution to the problem?
Read more: Pakistani Govt’s War against “Social Media”?
Should Pakistan Ban Facebook?
YouTube and Facebook are not just sites for fun and pleasure. They also contain an abundance of knowledge, education, and information about thousands of different social issues from cooking classes to website designing, from religious education to modern studies, and from the construction of a well to big shopping plazas. So, is it a wise decision to ban a website that is the cheapest and easiest source of gaining knowledge?
In my opinion, Pakistan, which is already lagging behind the neighboring countries, especially India, in technology, should not ban Facebook and YouTube. With a shortage of primary sources of education i.e., books and libraries, this country needs such sources to be used for educational purposes. Such a step of banning YouTube or Facebook will negatively impact students.
Asma Razaq is a broadcast journalist. She has worked with Samma TV & Business Recorder and just completed her 18 month long Atlas Fellowship Program, under which worked as Communication Officer with “Universities Allied for Essential Medicine” (UAEM) in the United States. This article first appeared in The Nation and is being republished with the permission of the author. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org & her twitter handle is @asmajournalist.