Facebook ban in Pakistan

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Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Evgeny Morozov, a Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, about a Facebook initiative that has angered many Pakistanis. It's a Facebook group that's calling on members to post their drawings of the Prophet Mohammed. Pakistan has responded by shutting down access to Facebook.

MARCO WERMAN: By the way, Google collection of data is also under some scrutiny here in the United States. Another web company that raises privacy concerns is Facebook. But that's not what's got people upset in Pakistan. Demonstrators took to the streets in Islamabad today. They were supporting the Pakistani government's decision to shut down access to Facebook.

MALE VOICE: We are really happy that the government and the courts of Pakistan have taken an action and we love our holy prophet, peace be upon him.

WERMAN: That holy prophet, Mohammed, is the subject of a Facebook group. It's called Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Tens of thousands of people have joined the group and thousands of images have been uploaded. Some of the pictures are pretty offensive and to Muslims, any image of the prophet Mohammed is forbidden. That's why the government of Pakistan pulled the plug on Facebook according to foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.

ABDUL BASIT: Such malicious and insulting attacks hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world and cannot be accepted under the garb of freedom of expression.

WERMAN: I spoke to Muneeb Ur Rahman about that decision. Rahman is a leading Islamic figure in Pakistan, a Mufti. He's a moderate who has issued fatwas against suicide bombing, but he says drawing an image of the prophet is just as bad.

MUNEEB UR RAHMAN: According to our point of view, the - - must be considered terrorism and a person must not be permitted to torture mentally, intellectually, according to their belief to 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.

WERMAN: The Mufti wants an international law to make such images illegal.

RAHMAN: There must be an international law passed by the U.N. to protect such kinds of terrorism. And there should be international courts of justice. These - - must reside in a court of law.

WERMAN: The guy who started the Facebook group responded to this idea via email writing freedom of thought, speech and identity are some of the most important aspects of my life, he said. These are things I love and cherish as if they were a brother, sister, father, mother, even a God. And he went on. It's just as offensive for me to see him trying to take away these rights by law as it is for him to see depictions of Mohammed. Well, Evgeny Morozov is a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Can you ever see some kinds of international legal parameters on social networking site?

EVGENY MOROZOV: No, I don't think it's ever going to happen as long as the social networking sites are incorporated in the U.S. As log as they are still attached to a physical country, and in most cases this country is the United States, a very strong freedom of expression and was seen a very strong protection of that right, I don't think its going to happen any time soon.

WERMAN: So do you think Pakistan, the Pakistani government was right to take down Facebook, not to mention You Tube as well?

MOROZOV: Well I don't do speculation whether they were right or not. If they have a law, we can of course debate about the merits of that law and then - - complicated values debate. But yes, I think that's the standard practice. That's what happens more and more often that governments find particular types of content on the internet which does not really fit into their legal system and they want to limit access to it.

WERMAN: So Pakistan has imposed this ban on Facebook. But still, the people who are posting these images, and some of them are really offensive, even hurtful and hateful, I'd like to know what you think a hate crime is and do some of these drawings at Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, kind of test the definition of what a hate crime is?

MOROZOV: Well, what I think of this issue is irrelevant until the - - what Facebook thinks about it. And so what I really want to do is for Facebook to actually publish a much, very detailed and very transparent and visible policy by which they are going to make those concessions. How we define hate crimes is going to differ from country to county. In some parts of Europe denying the holocaust would be such a crime and in the U.S. it wouldn't' be. I think we have no choice but to start debating those issues publicly and transparently and so far many technology companies have been unwilling to do that in a transparent and visible fashion.

WERMAN: Evgeny Morozov a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University thanks so much.

MOROZOV: Thanks.