Some people will kill you — and your family — if they “think” you’re blasphemous.
Pakistan’s government ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook on Wednesday amid anger over a page that encourages users to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order Wednesday requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.
By Wednesday evening, access to the site was sporadic, apparently because Internet providers were implementing the order.
The Facebook page at the center of the dispute — ”Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” — encourages users to post images of the prophet on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of ”South Park” for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year.
A smart and thoughtful comment from my friend Todd Curl:
For me, this is a very complicated and polarizing issue. Being agnostic — meaning I know enough to know that I don’t know everything — I despise religious extremism in any form that it manifests itself. I do, however, try to respect another person’s beliefs as long as they are not infringing on me.
There is fanaticism and extremism in every one of the “big three” monotheistic religions. With Islam in particular, fundamentalists have created theocracies in the middle east, essentially squashing any form of legitimate critique. With Pakistan, a country that has yet to fully become one of these theocracies, a state crackdown on a particular website might be a sign of a theocracy in the making.
I also realize that the creators of this facebook page probably have little understanding of Islam other than the fanaticism they see through a western media lens, and feel like they are pointing out how absurd their fanaticism is. Of course, the U.S. is largely Christian, and many Christians, not unlike Muslims and Jews, view their beliefs as the only true spiritual path and everything else is false.
Despite the large Christian demographic, those who believe it to be a fairy tale, or hypocritical, are able to mock it or be as derogatory or critical as they want, due to more freedoms of expressions that aren’t so common in the Muslim world. Likewise, I doubt the Pakistani Government would have a problem with something critical of Christianity being written or displayed through other forms of media.
Is the Pakistani Government being hypocritical? Perhaps they are, but the divide between the west and the middle east brings about nothing but reactionary words and actions from both sides. Is the facebook page designed to mock Muhammad racist and culturally insensitive? Probably so, but is still acceptable due to western notions of freedom of expression and opinion.
There is no right side or wrong side. It’s complicated and is part of the reason I have no involvement with religion of any sort. Rather than looking at similarities, we focus on the differences, leading to a history of war and destruction under the guise of religion. Everybody loses unfortunately.
You can visit Todd’s blog HERE