Facebook should get on with it and ban ‘Draw Mohammed Day’ group as row grows

[UPDATE, 15:00:] Pakistani is going ban crazy and has now extended its Facebook block to include YouTube and about 450 other web pages (including some on Flickr and Wikipedia) over what it described as “growing sacrilegious content”.

According to a report in the New York Times the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) moved to block YouTube after it spotted increased “objectionable content”.

PTA spokesman, Khurram Mehran, said: “Earlier we were blocking the links, but when content increased we had to block the whole Web site.”

From earlier – Facebook says it might now ban the provocative ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!’ group after Pakistani courts blocked the social networking site yesterday. Really Facebook should get on with it. This is doing nothing, but stir up pointless trouble, what is it waiting for?

More than 75,000 people have now joined the group that is organising a day dedicated to drawing the prophet Mohammed while more than 37,000 have joined an opposing group called Against ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – May 20′.

Yesterday afternoon, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked access to Facebook after the Lahore High Court issued an interim ruling as lawyers milled outside chanting “Down with Facebook”. They should have been chanting “Twitter is down” as it was constantly falling over yesterday.

Facebook has responded saying it was disappointed with the Pakistani courts’ decision to block Facebook without warning. It said it wanted Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others. Fair enough, but it shouldn’t be a place where people pointlessly stir up religious and racial trouble.

“While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion.

“We strongly believe that Facebook users have the freedom to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas,” Facebook said in a statement.

Khoram Ali Mehran of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority described the material on the group as “objectionable” and said it had been blocked it for an indefinite amount of time. He’s right it is. Most of the pictures on there are Islamic charactertures.

A message on the group’s information page said that it was not trying to slander the average Muslim, but spark debate.

“Hopefully this page will spark seroius debates in international forums. This page will continue to exist and the date will remain the same. PS: We are not trying to slander the average muslim , its not a muslim/islam hatepage. We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Mohammed depictions, that we’re not afraid of them.”

The page appears to have been set up by a Seattle-based cartoonist and contains dozens of caricatures of Mohammad and other pictures such as the one above. The original of that image features the caption “Leave Mohammed alone” and features little images of the prophet.

Does no one have a life? Facebook should just get on and ban both groups. Whoever set up the original ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day must have know what the outcome would be. It is highly provocative and looking at the comments is simply stirring up religious hatred. Who has time for any of that I do not know.

The site claims that it has been set up to spark serious debate in international forums and is “not trying to slander the average muslim”. Well if that is the case why is the main image on the draw Mohammed day group and image of a Islamist with several large knives? If that is supposed to be Mohammed why has the group depicted him as a jihadi?

Facebook should get off the fence, close the book down and everyone else should have a sit down and think about the stupid comments they’ve been posting.

This is another instance where Facebook really shows a lack of leadership. It was the same over the child protection issues being advanced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre when the social networking site initially refused to back panic button idea.

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