Tidbits of the region’s media

Tidbits of the region’s media

Has Pakistan's project of shutting down the Internet ceased? After the 'Draw the Prophet' fiasco in June, the usually stubborn Facebook made conciliatory noises to the Pakistani authorities, promising that this kind of thing won't happen again. The authorities in question quickly pronounced their victory, and lifted the ban. While clearly a face-saving dénouement for all involved, contrary to what's been reported, Facebook has not actually removed any of the 'offensive' content. Instead, it has simply blocked access to these pages for Pakistani IP addresses, something the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had done even before the case was brought before the Lahore High Court. The PTA also quietly restored service to the sites it had blocked early including YouTube and Wikipedia. This rollercoaster just goes round and round. Now, one 'Muhammad Siddiq' has petitioned the court to ban old targets like YouTube, search engine sites like Bing and Google, and – here's a new one – Amazon, as well as the anti-organised religion site In the name of Allah. 

Just how much ill-will had Facebook garnered, anyway? MillatFacebook (or MFB), a Pakistan-based social-networking newcomer that targets the 'more than 1.57 billion Muslims and sweet people from other religions' is betting 'a whole lot'. Whether it will make a dent on the giant is questionable, (Facebook's credo: 'You can sign-out, but you can never leave'), but MFB has already attracted a few hundred thousand members. New users are greeted with 'We are Listening you carefully' – words that CP swears by. In an interview, CEO Omer Zaheer Meer of Global IT Vision, the company behind MillatFacebook, says that Islam has a 'branding problem'. True, but not helped by calling the other Facebook 'Mark Zukerberg's Zionist FB [sic!]' on the MFB site. Meanwhile, advocate Mohammad Azhar Siddique (why does that name sound familiar?), the chair of the Judicial Activism Panel and part of the MFB team, has filed a police case in Lahore against Zuckerberg for blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty. Sweet people, but this is business!

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian
www.himalmag.com