A Story of Suspension of Expression

Note: The articles under the “My Rejections” tab are those that have been rejected for publication by all major media outlets either due to topics that are too controversial, not relevant or simply because of my crappy writing.

On 17 September 2012, Pakistan banned YouTube after Google refused to remove the trailer of the controversial movie “The Innocence of Muslims” from its servers.  According to Google, “The movie trailer did not violate its terms of use”. Freedom of expression was exercised at its best and the trailer continues to be available on the website along with another subsequent release against the prophet which was posted on the website in December 2012 titled “The Innocent Prophet”.

The video attacking the Prophet (P.B.U.H) angered Muslims all over the world resulting in massive riots, protests and strong pressure on Muslim governments by their people to ban this website; the strongest reaction being the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other US personnel. Even in Pakistan, the country came to a standstill on September 21, 2012 as people organized protests all over the country resulting in the torching of six cinemas, two banks, a KFC and five police vehicles in Karachi alone.  Everybody who has seen the movie agrees on one point: It is an amateur movie created using B grade actors and sets just for one purpose: to incite Muslims. Yet Google did not find this reason enough to block or remove this video. At that time, I also felt that the reaction of the Muslims’ was exaggerated since the movie was never released  in mainstream cinemas and by behaving like a pack of wolves let loose Muslims were just supporting the filmmaker’s agenda.

However, a year later, about a month ago I was browsing my Twitter account when I came across a tweet:

“Say No to death penalty”

to which I replied:

“ @R Why #NoToDeathPenalty ? The stricter the punishment, the lower the rate of crime”.

Our conversation went on thus:

“@raiyatweets Because Saudi executes people for disbelief, for one.”

“@R no thats not true, there are many non Muslims living and working in Saudi Arabia”

“@raiyatweets I’m not talking about expats. I’m talking about criminalization of apostasy and blasphemy.”

“@R its a rule laid down by Allah…who are we to judge?”

“@raiyatweets You are a bigot”

When I decided to reply to this message I got the message that the said user had blocked me. Moreover she posted a message on her twitter

@raiyatweets doesn’t think killing people for apostasy is a problem; and she declares minorities apostates.

As soon as this message was posted I started receiving hate messages from all her followers to which I replied

@R is a bigot because when she couldn’t defend her points with arguments, she blocked me, what a coward 😀

then I received this message in my interactions::

“@raiyatweets So what are you arguments for why you suggested you support death penalty for apostates?”

When I tried to reply, I was directed to a page notifying me that my account had been suspended and it would be cleared once I agreed that I would no longer annoy people on Twitter.

That’s when the freedom of expression façade purported by the West came tumbling down. A video that incites strong hatred reactions in Egypt, Yemen,Greece, Sudan,Tunisia, India, Indonesia and many other countries is allowed to stay whereas my innocent comment about a point of view I hold was thought to be inappropriate. And I never in my any tweet supported killing the minorities. Another tweep asked me:

“@raiyatweets  Where does it say it’s upto people like you to kill apostates in the Quran?

I  had replied:

“@C No I cant kill anyone, the case should go to court and a proper judge should decide the punishment just like any other crime”

I do not support the killing of innocent people for uttering blasphemy as is practiced in Pakistan. Yet my point of view was misinterpreted. Blasphemy and apostasy are two different things. Blasphemy is insulting a religious deity whereas apostasy is to renounce your religion to which the punishment is as prescribed in Quran and Hadith:

Surah 4. An-Nisa, Ayah 89 “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.”

And according to Sahi al Bukhari collection of Hadith:

Narrated ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “The blood of a Muslim cannot be shed except in three cases:

  1. Life for life (in cases of intentional murders)
  2. A married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse
  3. The one who turns renegade from Islam (apostate) and leaves the group of Muslims.”

A video dishonoring the Muslims’ sacred prophet that is clearly made with the sole intention to incite the anger of Muslims is allowed to play unabated whereas I am banned from expressing my opinion about a point of view I hold. It’s high time these tech giants reviewed their privacy policies to renew their definitions of freedom of expression rather than dealing with this definition superficially.

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