Face-ing the B!

As reports emerged of a countrywide ban on Facebookdue to a competition encouraging users to post caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) on the site, people started panicking – how were they going to tell the world about their terrible day at work now that the status updates won’t be available?Face-ing the B!

While various Islamic parties and organisations took to the streets, protesting against Facebook and the blasphemy it was promoting, a large number of Facebook fans in the country took to their Google Talk update boxes and expressed their frustration through their g-chat windows – but it still wasn’t good enough. Nothing gives closure the way a status update on Facebook does. No party, cooking experiment or get together with friends feels complete enough unless and until it has been documented on Facebook.

I myself am a regular user of the site and I feel it is the best way to stay connected to friends abroad and share some not-so-intimate pictures but when it comes to farming, cooking and interior designing, I honestly believe those should only be practiced in real life instead of on a computer screen.

A hyperventilating colleague sitting behind me keeps muttering “Wow…. No Facebook huh?” I asked her wouldn’t this allow her to spend more time on more productive activities such as reading a book for instance. Her snappy response was, “No, they have a virtual bookshelf on Facebook, you know!”

As if the ban on the social networking site wasn’t enough, a text message later informed us that Blackberry services had been suspended also due to the LHC order. Seeing people go crazy about the Facebook block was a bit entertaining, I have to admit, but blocking Blackberry services is a bit extreme. And why stop there, on Thursday morning our authorities also blocked the popular video sharing website, YouTube. What’s next? Google?

No doubt that the act of inviting artists to take part in an act of what we Muslims strongly consider blasphemy is shameful and appalling but we are not the only Muslim country in the world. Taking out a rally with placards and chanting loud slogans does not make a Lahori Muslim better than another residing in some other Islamic nation. But then again, coming out on the streets is tradition for us after all. Rallying, protesting and damaging our own country’s property has become too common now and why spare this opportunity – after all, we are the only nation who is taking things this far which must mean are the most devoted Muslim country existing in today’s world. But seriously though, can our religion and faith really be weakened by some ignorant community on a website? Is not possible to use these platforms to counter the hate and damage by promoting peace and real knowledge?

I am sure there are a lot of people who are standing by this court order, and I too agree that Facebook is not the place to open wounds which have already hurt the Muslim communities around the world, however, blocking someone’s email or blackberry messenger for instance, is just absurd. It just makes us seem like an intolerant society who can’t decipher things for themselves, but instead needs direction on what platforms and websites to access and what to avoid.

But then comes the argument that this is a matter of Islam and if we are true Muslims we must “fight”… “fight” for the honour and respect of our peaceful religion in the face of the “enemies of Islam”. And if that is the case, then I suppose any act of violence or uproar is justified. Or is it?

I received numerous invitations to the Facebook “event” to be held on May 20, to boycott the site over the caricatures – an “event” planned and discussed throughout on the site itself which was supposed to be boycotted – does this sound ironic to anyone else? Due to sheer laziness and lack of interest, I have hardly ever accepted an invite to an “event” promoted on Facebook, including the boycott. But with yesterday’s actions, I suppose all of Pakistan will end up attending this event, whether we were invited or not.

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