In a disturbing move, the government of Pakistan is asking Facebook and Twitter to give them the user information of individuals who share “Blasphemous” content.
They also want content they deem “blasphemous” removed.
The news was reported by The International News, a Pakistani-based newspaper. The call for social media sites to rat out users to the Pakistani government was made by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
According to the International News, Khan said “no Muslim can tolerate blasphemy against prophet muhammad, adding that offenders could not be caught without the assistance of social media networks.”
Think about that last part for a moment:
“Offenders could not be caught without the assistance of social media networks.”
Khan went even further, calling blasphemers “enemies of humanity,” and said it was an “international issue.” He also claimed Pakistan would discuss the “issue” at a global level “representing the Muslim community.”
Note that Khan is not just calling for a ban in Pakistan. If he thinks it’s an international issue it means he and the Pakistani government are calling for a ban around the world.
Khan’s comments are disturbing. He wants to use two western-built social media platforms as tools for his government to punish those who freely speak their minds.
Early in the week, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to block all “blasphemous” content on social media sites.
Here is how the International News explained Sharif’s justification for his actions:
“He said that the emotions and feelings of Muslims must be respected. He labeled blasphemous content as an attempt to play with the emotions of the Muslim Ummah and directed authorities to prevent the spread of blasphemous content on social media by taking all necessary measures and ensuring that it does not circulate on the digital space in the future.”
Certainly, freedom of speech is not something that the government of Pakistan values.
There is a disturbing parallel between the comments made by Sharif – particularly respecting “emotions and feelings,” as a justification for limiting speech – and the comments we hear from many on the authoritarian left, who want to use the power of government to suppress free speech – all too often also hidden under the pretext of protecting people’s “feelings.”
Is it any wonder that so many Canadians oppose M-103, when they see our own Prime Minister using similar language to demonize Canadians and silence dissent?
In fact, polls show that only 14% of Canadians support M-103, which means Canada is waking up and realizing that free speech cannot be taken for granted. Our right to speak our minds is one of the pillars of our nation, and we cannot let anyone take that away from us. We must be free to speak our minds, share our thoughts, and criticize ideas, even when some people see that as “blasphemy.”
We know that our current government is not on the side of free speech, and they have many powerful allies around the globe who want to see us silenced.
That is why we must be vigilant and unwavering in our determination to protect freedom of speech.
We will not let all we worked for as a society and as a civilization be lost.
Photo – Twitter