I’ve had enough. Some of my friends initiated the boycott a few months back but I wasn’t convinced. I was mistaken. Facebook has, time and again, refused to take action against hate speech and hate groups that operate within the platform. I came up with many excuses to keep using the platform and fabricated many arguments in its favour. Fortunately, I gave it time and now realize that facebook is to blame.
The most popular argument in favour of facebook is this: “boycotting facebook for the reason that it refuses to take action against offensive groups is like boycotting telephone or internet, because facebook is just a medium”. It’s a red herring because facebook is a moderated medium while telephone and internet are not. The admins at facebook have control over the content that gets posted (and they do exercise this control in many instances). If facebook didn’t have the power to remove the offensive pages or if it wasn’t possible for them to moderate them, they’d be home-free but neither of these things is true. So, facebook is not off-the-hook. A better analogy would be that of a newspaper and you should certainly boycott a newspaper if it publishes offensive material. Facebook chooses not to take offensive groups off and for that, they are to blame.
Another argument is that boycotting facebook would make no difference. This is complete nonsense. Every business needs customers and every customer counts. Even if I can get no one else to leave facebook, just the fact that I’m leaving will make a difference to facebook. Besides, muslims are a huge portion of the world’s population and we can always make a difference. It’s really quite easy. Once we boycott one product/service for being offensive to our religion, many alternatives will surface and they would be careful. So, we’ll have what we want and still use our favourite products/services. It just needs a little bit of time (which unfortunately, we’re not willing to sacrifice).
I will not get into a debate of “free speech” versus “hate speech”. It’s fairly obvious to those who think with an open mind that insulting someone’s deep-felt beliefs is not free speech. Regardless of who the target is, insulting their religious beliefs is hate speech. This applies to all religions and no one should be allowed to insult any one else’s religious icons.
A while back, when a Danish newspaper published offensive depictions of our Holy Prophet (sallallaho-alaihe wasallam), I posted the fatwa by Mufti Ibrahim Desai on my blog. You can see it here. I will re-iterate a few very important points here. They are applicable now as they were then:
- Express anger and disgust within the framework of the law of the country. Use the law of the country to its full capacity.
- Boycott all Danish products and products of anyone else who support Denmark in this issue or even sympathise with Denmark.
- Do not confine expression of anger to the cartoon issue. Use the opportunity to express the disgust on Islamophobia in general and highlight some pertinent issues.
- Do not conduct ourselves with our fellow non-Muslim citizens in a way that offend them and look for an opportunity to get back at us. We will then be the cause of them showing disrespect to Islam and Islamic values. Always express good character and conduct to all.
- The most important issue in expressing our love and honour for Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is following his Sunnah. Expressing our anger at the disrespect to Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is important but it will be hypocritical if we do not emulate the outward appearance, beard, dressing, etc. and noble character of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. Every one should obtain a kitaab on the Sunnats of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and implement that in our lives and pass this over to others.
So, these are the reasons I’m leaving facebook. I’m not de-activating my account. I’m deleting it. I set the date to May 19. I will switch to another service and if that service does the same thing, I’ll move on again. I can live without social networks if I have to.
I urge you all to spread this message.