October 26, 2020 – In a letter to the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg on October 25, the Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked him to ban Islamophobic content on Facebook similar to how the platform has banned speech denying or criticising the Holocaust.
The Prime Minister writes in the letter which can be accessed here, “I am writing to draw your attention to the growing Islamophobia that is encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world through the use of social media platforms, including Facebook.” The PM mentioned that he appreciates the platform’s step of banning the content that criticises or questions the Holocaust “which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom of the Jews in Germany and across Europe.”
Facebook recently announced the banning of the content that denies or distorts the Holocaust on its platform after Mark Zuckerberg refused to regulate it for years in what he called his effort to uphold free speech on the platform.
The PM Imran Khan appreciated the recent development of not giving the space to such hateful content, and asked to respond similarly towards Islamophobic content as well. In the letter that he wrote to Zuckerberg, he says that “we are seeing similar pogrom against Muslims in different parts of the world.” He makes reference to the treatment and violence against Muslims in India where anti-Muslim regulations including Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) had been used to target Muslims, and ignited protests against the discrimination of the Muslim community in the country. He further refers to the association of terrorism with Muslims and Islamophobic cartoons in France. The Prime Minister says, “We have seen how marginalisation inevitably leads to extremism – something that the world does not need.”
Shedding light on the “rampant abuse and vilification of Muslims on social media”, the Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Mark Zuckerberg to take similar step to ban Islamophobic content as he took for the Holocaust. The Prime Minister asserts that the message of hate “must be banned in total”, and should not be banned for one and acceptable for other kinds of hate.
The Prime Minister ends the letter with reminding Zuckerberg that the world should not wait for the ‘pogrom against Muslims” to be completed before Islamophobia is banned. He writes, “This in itself is reflective of prejudice and bias that will further encourage radicalisation.”
Hija is a Programs Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. She combines her experience in digital rights in Pakistan to lead digital rights and internet governance advocacy of MMfD. She tweets at @hijakamran