Open Call for Non-Violent, Alternate Methods to Denounce Hate Speech

There is a fine line between what constitutes Freedom of Expression and what is Hate Speech.

Many times, under the garb of free expression, malicious acts are carried out with the intent to harm sentiments and enrage others. Earlier, caricatures and now the movie, The Innocence of Muslims, has caused a furore among Muslims globally, who view this as a deliberate attempt on part of the filmmakers to disrespect the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The preferred mode of protest in Pakistan, to date has been of two kinds. One, to hold mass protest rallies and burn flags of US and Israel, and march towards the US embassy for a sit-in. Two, block URLs in addition to writing to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter for the removal of blasphemous content and, in the event of non-compliance, block the domain.

The first kind of protest results in vandalism, arson, stone-pelting and people being killed. The second kind of protest results in a temporary ban of domains – which can last from half a day to a full month.

Over the last few years there have been several incidents of this nature and this cycle of protest has been repeated each time. Yet, what has this mode of protesting achieved other than it being a means for protestors to vent and channel their outrage outwards?

Have these protests stopped people from producing and spreading blasphemous content?

Has blocking URLs and domains ensured such content will never again be available?

If the recent incidents are anything to go by, the answer to the above questions is no. None of these short-term, temporary, over broad and violent measures have resulted in anything concrete. In doing all this, we cause no one harm but ourselves.

We burn our own, kill our own, for the acts of others. We impose restrictions on ourselves and block access to content in Pakistan when nobody in their right mind would even try and access such material sitting here. And, above all, our acts provide unnecessary publicity to the makers and proliferators of such content.

Just like at the time of the competition on Facebook in 2010, yet again we have brought so much attention to this movie that those who would not have known about it, now know about it too. Why?

Surely there must be better ways of registering our protest that actually count for something, and make a difference. Do you have suggestions? How can we counter such instigation peacefully and effectively?

Leave a comment below and tell us how you think instances like these can be  handled differently by the government and the masses.

Blog Comments

Best way to do it in my view;

It was posted as a youtube video right? Why not post a video on Youtube ourselves to actually tell the world who the Holy Prophet (PBUH) actually was? The most humble, generous, kind, trustworthy and merciful man that has walked the planet!

Surely, there are so many examples from the Prophet’s life that can be used to support the above?

And instead we choose to avenge the Holy Prophet by burning,breaking and hurting our own? Are we actually doing justice to his name by responding in this way?

I am not doubting the love that the people on the streets have for the Holy Prophet. But surely, when their anger subsides, and some times passes by – they can’t possibly be proud of their actions? They can’t be proud of breaking the business/livelihood of one of their own?

And even if its not their own (i.e. Muslims/Pakistanis), is it justified to hurt/kill/hate innocent Americans/others because of the actions of a handful of hate-mongerers?

Doesn’ the very name “Islam” literally mean “peace”?

Only that blasphemy is NOT hate speech. There is no “fine line” between hate speech and free expression. It’s pretty damn simple:
Encouraging violence and discrimination against one group of people by a different group of people = Hate speech
Dismissing an idea/criticizing a historical/public figure = Free expression
But if you must be stupid enough to feel offended by someone just saying something, I’d rather you rant on facebook/newspaper articles/debating forums than kill other people and burn public/private properties.

Blocking Youtube in Pakistan may help ease the on going protest carried against US Embassies/Officials across the country or in a way, will be fulfilling US objectives but we still won’t be achieving our desired objectives. Better would have been blockade of video from Youtube worldwide. Now we will be losing a lot in terms of businesses who rely on Youtube.

Remember – The Video will still be out there !

well it’s kinda a complicated thing or maybe we as Musalmans have made it complicated.. on the platform of ‘Freedom’, every person or set of people has their own way of expressing hatred, i believe that rather than destroying consulates and killing the people who haven’t done it… we should apply the policy of Peaceful manner of representing Islam, all of us know that nothing’s gonna happen on protests.

May Allah SWT bless the Muslim Ummah.. Ameen

This video is not the only one. There is so much other outrageous content available on internet. one can not protest to each one of it. Best thing is to ignore. They would shut up when no one pays attention to them.

This response of blocking youtube is not required. Youtube is a tool. You can use it to spread good and you can use it to spread evil. That is for the user to decide what he/she wants to watch. I am pretty annoyed at the block because I wanted to watch a lecture on youtube from my teacher and now I can’t. We don’t need to kill the messenger, which is the easy and obvious thing to do. 1.Just flag the video as offensive.
2. Or just like “Celebrate Mercy”, do an online campaign writing to You tube to take this offensive material off.
3. No body has the right to disrespect any one’s religion but if some people think this is “freedom of expression” then we, Muslims, need to be the bigger people and just ignore this issue.
4. Here is the bitter truth: Muslims are not the global power today and if we are so powerless then let’s focus on learning about the Prophet SAWS whose honor and name we are so boldly defending. We will all be surprised by our ignorance. My humble solution is: LEARN ABOUT THE SEERAH OF THE PROPHET SAWS AND FIND OUT WHAT HE DID IN HIS LIFE WHEN PEOPLE INSULTED AND RIDICULED HIM ON HIS FACE. He did not BLOCK people, he forgave them and moved on in his life to spread good. It’s time to build some character people – leave the guns and the bombs for another time. This is not the time!

These kind of social sites work on the basis of number of users visit these website, add their data.

By banning such site, certainly decrease the number of users visits and data which further decrease the view ship of these site. These sites business depend on the traficing, so banning these and stop using these will certainly effect them and force these sites to make law so that they not harm other people religious feeling..

What we need to search alternators of these site. As information on internet is not bound to these two or 3 websites….

Lets do this for our religion, for our faith… otherwise they did not stop after cartoon compitition, next time they will come with more dangerous ideas.

Seriously they hardly care about hits from Pakistan. A publisher gets as low as 0.01$ for ad hit from Pakistan.

Why only Pakistan?

I am referring to all Muslim Ummah, And we can spread our message to other religious communities who respect other religious believes.

Here is another solution: A sound Muslim scholar should make an attempt to speak to this fellow. If he is sane then he may actually take back his own work – Now that would be news worth tweeting about. There are organizations/groups that have gone and visited people who made some blasphemous content in the past and in return educated them about the Prophet SAWS and what he means to us as Muslims. Whether he takes his work back or not, we will have risen above and done the honorable thing to do.

Another suggestion is: Muslim film makers should make a movie or two about the teachings of Hazrat Isa (AS) and Musa (AS) and their honorable status in Islam.

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