Bitter Twitter

The micro-blogging site, Twitter, has been blocked and taken from all the users, well, use. Government officials claim that there was a blasphemous topic being discussed, on the site, regarding Muhammad PBUH. Which hurts me, too, mind you, but that does not mean we mess around with people’s freedom of speech and the decision of visiting/not visiting that site. Naturally, they contacted Twitter’s administration to bring it down, to which Twitter’s people comfortably replied that they “cannot stop any individual doing anything of this nature on the website”. Great. What does our government do? Of course, block the blasphemous website which supports freedom of speech: how dare they!

So that’s done and dusted, what next? They are not sure how long will they keep it blocked, either. I, personally, have proxy software (which I am sure most of my Pakistani fellows are using at the moment), but put to no good use. Somehow, even that does not respond where Twitter is concerned. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have done a good job (but you can use Twitter from your mobile devices) or simply the proxy recognizes you’re from Pakistan Even though the reports claim that they have simply blocked access of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Multan, mainly PTCL’s internet connection; where does Baffa, Mansehra come in the mixture, where I am right now? I wonder.

They also say that this step was taken on the behalf of the masses, who were taking this issue seriously (and emotionally). How about the other chunk of people that are on Twitter and, also, believe in freedom of speech? They must suffer, yes.

This move could be completely political, as well. Pakistan Tehreeq-e-Insaaf, the key element of the coming elections, is at the heart of this action. The topic is related to Islam, making it a sensitive one over the masses, and a suitable tool to be used. By doing this they will gain the trust of sensitive Muslims, since obviously PTA has their best interest at heart. Playing with public sentiments is not a new thing at all to get better poll ratings for so-and-so political party. Hell, even Obama is taking a shot at it!

In any case, Pakistan is not the first country to be behaving this strongly towards actions rooted in Twitter’s millions of ‘followers’ who come from all sorts of cultures, religions and general backgrounds. Having said that, of course there are going to be extremists and prejudiced people on it, as well, so that obviously needed some curbing; too much freedom is never healthy, anyway. In the beginning of this year, though, Twitter had officially announced that they could and will block/remove tweets and account-holders if the said person’s/concerned tweet’s country’s government was to deem it inappropriate or simply may complain (if Twitter did not block/remove the person/tweet): twitter encourages countrymen to go haywire where the country’s acceptable actions and unacceptable actions’ boundaries clash, and making it apparent that the nation would be ‘all right’ with anything, even if they did not agree with it. Of course that is not so, and if anyone thought that it was is living 200 years ahead of time where countries let their people be.

But, alas, there’s another oddity: Twitter, after only 5 months of stating that they would respond to government’s requests/notifications affirmatively, suddenly decided that it was not going to help Pakistan. Why not? Twitter gets an estimated 730 million hits a month on average. Yes, it’s crazy but true. They have even experienced a recent spike, going up to 760 million (and onwards). We are definitely not a large percentage missing, but still we are missing, and I doubt Twitter’s too happy about it.

Sure, Twitter’s really fun and addictive, and, if not thousands, then hundreds of Pakistanis will have a bad day because of the blockage, but that’s not the only reason why this action was wrong. Even though Twitter contradicted itself by not responding to our governments requests, they do have a point: human freedom is one thing that America said it would work for, and they have, its bad effects are besides the point right now. Freedom of thought, speech and action is the essential ingredient for a human being, and his damned right. Taking away Twitter like that is clearly stating that they dont care for our freedom, which is very, very unfair. Being an ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan, how can they not know that Quran is based on fairness?

Let’s see where we are headed. Perhaps, short and sweet ‘Pakistan’ would do?

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4 thoughts on “Bitter Twitter

  1. Mohammad Ali says:

    Just finished up reading this piece and I can assert how much you are actually hurt (as you suggested in line no. 3) by the deplorable contest on Twitter is not foggy anymore, since you have gone to any length to prove that should this ban continue, we must not register our resentment over it by boycotting Twitter and instead keep using Twitter like in normal life we do. The government had done its job, it made a contact with Twitter according it an opportunity to keep that heinous activity from taking place but seemed like Twitter didn’t give a sh*t about you Western-wannabe Pakistanis! Who will just want to stand in support with that social network and do uber stupidity online daily even if their religion is on the social network’s target. Did the government have any other option to respond to Twitter’s purposeful stubbornness? No, except that it would disallow Twitter in the country and so it justly did. Now GoP could not specifically allow your Internet Protocol or the likes of yours’ to access Twitter, could it? Then why do you fret about the government sabotaging your freedom to use Twitter? This country was achieved in the name of Islam, its constitution has laid it down clearly that Islamic principles are foremost and will prevail notwithstanding to any other law or rule, if you are feeling discomfortable for not being able to access Twitter from Pakistan, then move elsewhere because per the law of the land and Islam, the honor of Holy Prophet (utmost peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) must be ensured. Additionally, the ban was more like a warning to Twitter that if it messed with the emotions of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, it would be slapped with an immediate ban.

    You are a learned ignorant and, if I mistake not, have a habit of speaking in contradistinction to your own views. You put forth an idea for consideration: “There are going to be extremists and prejudiced people on it, as well, so that obviously needed some curbing; too much freedom is never healthy, anyway”; whereas, in the last paragraph you again started negating the very idea by supporting Twitter’s stance of letting the blasphemous competition go directly or indirectly, keeping in line with much of the article. You know you are just a supporter of absolute of freedom of expression, I challenge you go by the palace of the Queen and shout abuses at her or make a video of yourself abusing the Queen and get it broadcast on BBC, you dare survive roaming freely in UK only minutes thereafter, I challenge you, you cannot; they will throw you behind the bars. There are a certain significant limitations to the freedom of expression that must be borne in mind, not forgotten. I reproduce hereunder the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10 for ready-reference:
    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
    include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information
    and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of
    frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the
    licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
    2. “The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
    responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions,
    restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a
    democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial
    integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for
    the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation
    or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information
    received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and
    impartiality of the judiciary.”
    Go through clause 2 over and over. Provided, if the freedom of expressions goes against the morals or harms the reputation of others, it must be controlled. Here, the despicable drawing is visibly against the supreme doctrine of morals (Shariah), isn’t it, then why must it not be prevented? Furthermore, would it not pollute our reputation that we Muslims take pride in readily willing to render our lives for the sake of Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (utmost peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) honor if we didn’t make an effective move such as banning the site? You Western-wannabe freaks (I am not referring specifically to you but generally speaking) turn down the law of the land, the blasphemy law of this nation for one reason or another but how about you consider observing the International Law seeing that your ideal Western states are party too to its enforcement?

    Why don’t you understand, the issue at hand doesn’t concern an individual alone, it has a potential to get an untoward escalation amongst masses marked by faithless, pagan, mindless rashes viewing it favorably and on the other hand, true, devout Muslims deeming it hateful, as against their basic freedom of practising Islam, their emotions being massively hurt. On this ground, this should be stopped (at the very least in a Muslim nation) knowing no other effective alternative than blocking the site exists. Are Muslims less humans? How come this offensive exercise to be carried out on a massive scale on Twitter be not termed against the basic human rights?

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  2. Firstly, lovely piece, perfect points and I really like the fact that you took it seriously, and replied accordingly.
    Lets first handle the freedom issue:
    See, to know freedom we must realise what it actually is. Freedom is simply giving individuals an open, clear and hurdle-less ability to make their own choices and decisions, no matter how bizarre, or even against common norms and ethics. Choice is a human freedom. To speak, think, act, and simply be the way a human being wants to be is their right. If we develop a system around human freedom (somewhat like the United States) we will be encouraging people to make whatever choice they wanted to make without any cultural issues surrounding them.
    “1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
    include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information
    and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of
    frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the
    licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.”

    What is the democratic political system, essentially? People choosing people to rule them. That’s as free as it gets. Now, why are dictatorships so disliked? Because the minute they take power by force, they snub the concept of freedom – they strip people of having a choice – if the dictator doesnt agree, you will have to think the same if you dont want to be killed; in a democracy, though, if the leader is doing something you dont agree with, you can elect someone else. Forget everything else, giving a view that people are somewhat ‘enslaved’ by their own government is barely something to ever want or even want to give up to. Why so?

    And by giving so much freedom, we must know that many people will choose a useless path, not all will become scientists and philosophers, so it will be unhealthy is that way.. But freedom like that also assures that we get a genius in the end, instead of ridiculous stereotypes which we will get in the absence of freedom. But with freedom we need education – they go hand in hand. Wouldnt give a 16 year old complete freedom, would you? Maturity is key.

    Coming to the twitter issue.. For a moment, lets ignore the fact that we’re Muslims but wanna-be westerners, lets take all humanity as individuals, what do we get? Everyone is trying to figure life out in their own ways. Most will always remain stuck in their web of lies, complexes and other mental/psychological issues – but theyre not our problem, our problem are the ones that think. Who will always remain very important.

    When our government notified twitter of the situation and requested that the topic be brought down, I supported that, because that was a very reasonable reaction. Now what I dont support is if twitter refused to do that (for whatever reasons, basically human freedom) our government had no right whatsoever to block the site off in our country – that’s more like a dictatorship where they severely curb every move!

    And honestly, do you really think Islam would be all that damaged because of a silly contest? Silly because, think about it, if Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would be here today, how would he react to this situation? From what I have read and heard, (from/in Quran; dont really believe in other texts written by Mullahs who are actually the people who might have reacted to this and encouraged an extreme step that hinders human’s freedom to choose) the prophet most probably would have taken it very lightly, and probably even asked people to show him the sketches! What does it matter if theyre drawing his face? He was a human being after all, and not exactly an unmentionable. If they’re disrespecting him, then let them do it; the most you can do is not talk to such people (like Allah says, that we should let them be) since they will never change their view even if we spoke to them. Instead of blocking twitter and writing in bold ‘oh look at us, the 200years backward country which was created to support the Islamic thought and the majority of its citizens havent even read their own holy book and now theyre getting so sensitive about a thing on twitter which wasnt even being carried out by Muslims, rather people who didnt people in their faith’. Makes us look like ignorant idiots.

    There’s nothing wrong with protecting out religion, and I know how much it deserves it, but instead of getting offended on what non-Muslims have to say, go turn on your television and go on any ‘Islamic’ channel and listen to what they have to say. So, dont say that this country is all that pro-Islam, its not. We say we’re Muslims, but we all have made blunders and expect Allah to forgive us. We act as if there’s no afterlife, because that would kill our funs in this world. This country is in a horrible shape as it is, and such ignorant moves arnt helping its case.

    Yes, I agree that its unfair for people to be misusing their freedom on Muslim’s expense, but then again, when you have given them freedom, then let them be. Cant change their minds for them. And if Allah has given all of man kind freedom to do whatever they want till the day of judgement, then who are we to be so rigid about things that the Prophet himself wouldnt take this seriously?

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  3. Mohammad Ali says:

    “Freedom is simply giving individuals an open, clear and hurdle-less ability to make their own choices and decisions, no matter how bizarre, or even against common norms and ethics. Choice is a human freedom. To speak, think, act, and simply be the way a human being wants to be is their right.”

    We all should have freedom to think, opine, act and express in the way we wish in any political system, who is by any chance denying it? My argument is apparent that is one must have freedom of thought, life whatever the hell else but that freedom should not be used to the prejudice of another. A person who is free to be in any political system can remain so only until that person robs another at knife point and kills them because if he is to be set free even after he has committed a crime like that you will find nobody alive in the political system. Similarly, freedom of expression should be free from an ingredient of prominent offence, take time to revisit my post above I have clearly exemplified it for your convenient understanding that if you publicly, say on a national scale, curse the queen, the police will locate you and arrest you at once. Therefore, again I highlight there are a certain limitations to the freedom.

    Also, there are concepts of slander, defamation et cetera too in the law protecting a person’s good name so basically there are rules and laws governing freedom, all kinds of freedom including freedom to express oneself, both in the national and international legal systems. I am not talking about Shariah (which alone should be the competent law) yet, I am talking about the man made legal system that you Western-wannabe freaks’ ideal Western states feel comfortable with that even made made laws prohibit the misuse of freedom of expression. And to your boundless love for democracy, majority rule is understood to be the golden characteristic of democracy and majority in Pakistan has already voted, decided never ever to allow blasphemy uttered against the Prophet Muhammad (countless blessings, peace be upon him) on the land of Pakistan, gave this decision of theirs a practical shape by validating the blasphemy law in National Assembly, then why the enforcement of the said law be taken as an alien demand now amongst the fewest Western-wannabe people in our society since it came into force by the will of the majority in the parliament demonstrating the pure democratic process?

    From what I have observed you appear to be so far, I know you will not like me to go in detail respecting proving the point I intend to make from Shariah, it’s for this reason I hope to do my best communicating the point in a general way. In addition to that, I hope you are mature enough not to liken this instance I am to present to anything in your life in reality. Well, let’s begin, take your father for example: he is kind and respectful to people, then come some people disgracing him, mocking him and ridiculing restlessly, you happen to be somewhere about, what your instinctive, immediate and obvious reaction will be but natural that you will come inbetween them and your father, standing angrily, unsatisfactorily and violently facing them and also perhaps if you love him sincerely, you will feel like punching them all in the face totally forgetting the hell which follows. He was just a kind father of a daughter who turned the daughter so mad burning, charged, infused with wrath all of a sudden but “not unaltered and unaffected” to put it shortly then how in the world do you calculate upon us not to be alike in much the same way you are supposed to be mad at the ones who dissed your father and to behave “unaltered and unaffected”, upon our religious enemies’ blasphemously reasonless and senseless agendum to dishonor our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as if nothing happened while in truth our Holy Prophet (utmost peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is dearer to us a billion, trillion, quadrillion, gazillion times in comparison to our parents; I can safely say that about myself and an average Muslim, don’t know about you, I want to believe you believe the same though. So ultimately, we must naturally react strongly in any such event which we really did, by putting a ban on the site.

    “And if Allah has given all of man kind freedom to do whatever they want till the day of judgement, then who are we to be so rigid about things that the Prophet himself wouldnt take this seriously?”

    Wholeheartedly acknowledging your contention that Holy Prophet’s kindness (utmost peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had no limit but that is what was desired of him by Allah for more and more people to fall in love with the appeal Islam emanated thus, however it is strictly not desired of us by Allah to remain “unaltered and unaffected” when ours’ and Allah’s beloved is being dishonored (Nauzibillah) in any way, or anything that Allah loveth including Holy Quran. For a proof thereof from Shariah that the blasphemy committed against the Holy Prophet (abundant peace and blessings be upon him) has only the capital punishment in Islam, I can very possibly cite from Holy Quran and Ahadith, if you want me to. Ensuingly, this idea that pretending nothing happened would be a breach of trust, show a mark of infidelity impressed on our hearts. And another supposition ye delivered that reacting strongly to their blasphemous acts will earn no good, I religiously disagree to it too, are you familiar in your mind with that Youtube vs. Pakistan Telecom affair over some blasphemous videos on Youtube back in 2008 I guess? Youtube had been shut down in almost the entire world, they got the signal from Pakistan that the Ummah might be silent but not dead.

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    • Excellent points and I completely agree. Freedom does not give anyone a right to mess around with other people. Again, – Ill approach freedom in a different way this time – when a society is fair they will see that the need for freedom in the human growth process is of the utmost importance, but when the same freedom is used unfairly then it isn’t, in fact, a form of freedom at all, it’s rather abusing what you have, or an excess of freedom. At the end of the day, what we can deem to be right or wrong can only be settled if we agree that something is fair or unfair – that’s the base of the problem. Now, anyone will agree that attacking someone’s religion randomly is unfair and, in most cases, done out of a prejudice. And I completely agree that this was very, very unfair, and that freedom only extends till here, after that comes justice. Like you said, the daughter started fighting with them. Why didn’t we? When our government asked Twitter to bring the topic down, that was fair. But shutting off the medium prejudiced and unfair people had used? That’s bullshit, honestly, and unfair. Who gave them the right to mess around like that? And, in fact, its not even a good come-back to the people who had started the contest. The better way to handle this would be that all us Muslims should have started vigorously tweeting that the topic be put down, and mean while asking the individuals involved that if they had a problem with Islam then tell us so we can either correct you or agree? Talk over it, dont attack in such a lame fashion. In fact if they noticed any fault, whatsoever, in the Quran then pleas do tell, and if it’s legit then even we can realize that!

      And it wasn’t desired of him by Allah, the characteristics were already there, since Allah says in the Quran that its the people’s good luck that you’re such a good and kind man. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was an amazing man. But we must realize that he was human as well.

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