North Korea Doesn’t Have German Submarines

[Finding a German torpedo proves that this was either a true false flag act of murderous terrorism, or a real friendly fire accident during US/So. Korean “Foal Eagle” war games that American spin-meisters are turning into trumped-up grounds for restarting the Korean War.  SEE: South Korea vows caution over ship but North sees war]

List of active North Korean ships

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Korean People’s Army Naval Force
조선인민군 해군
Flag of the Korean People's Navy.svg
Components
Korean People’s Navy
History
History of the Korean People’s Navy
Ships
Current Fleet
Naval Bases
Personnel
Senior Officers
Question book-new.svg
This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed(March 2009)

This is a list of active ships of the Korean People’s Army Naval Force. It is incomplete, as public information on the state’s military is incomplete. Many of the vessels are ex-Soviet or Chinese vessels, some designs dating from 1930s, but extensively modified.

Contents

[hide]

[edit]Submarines

Type Class Country of Origin In Service
Diesel coastal midget submarine Sang-O class Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 32
Diesel powered submarine Ming class (Type-031) People’s Republic of China 22
Diesel-electric submarine Whiskey class Soviet Union 4
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Obama’s Strategy To Save America’s Rich By Creating Universal Insecurity for Everyone Else

At West Point, Obama offers new security strategy

Washington Post Staff Writer

WEST POINT, N.Y. — President Obama on Saturday offered a glimpse of a new national security doctrine that distances his administration from George W. Bush’s policy of preemptive war, emphasizing global institutions and America’s role in promoting democratic values.

In a commencement speech to the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the president outlined his departure from what Bush had called a “distinctly American internationalism.” Instead, Obama pledged to shape a new “international order” based on diplomacy and engagement.

Obama has spoken frequently about creating new alliances, and of attempts to repair the U.S. image abroad after nearly a decade in which Bush’s approach was viewed with suspicion in many quarters.

Unlike Bush, who traveled to West Point in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to announce his American-centered approach to security, Obama on Saturday emphasized his belief in the power of those alliances.

“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system. But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation,” he said. “We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice — so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don’t.”  [Obama faults Bush for stepping outside the flow of civil behavior and cooperative human endeavor, while putting forward his ideas for bending the norms of civilized human behavior to suit American will.  He plans to help those nations which cooperate with American demands and punish those who don’t–just like any other mafia chief.]

In his speech — the ninth wartime commencement in a row — the commander in chief, who is leading two foreign wars, expressed his faith in cooperation to confront economic, military and environmental crises.

“The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times,” he said in prepared remarks. “Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds.”

And yet, as he calls for global cooperation, Obama has intensified the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And his administration has repeatedly confronted the dangers of Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil, including unsuccessful attempts to down a Detroit-bound airliner and explode a car bomb in New York’s Times Square.

To the men and women in the hall, many of whom are headed to Afghanistan because of the expansion of the war the president announced here six months ago, Obama pledged “the full support of a proud and grateful nation.”

The president expressed confidence in the military’s ability to succeed in Afghanistan. But he warned of a “tough fight” ahead as the United States helps the Afghan people rebuild civil institutions and a security system so they can battle the Taliban and other extremists on their own.

“We have brought hope to the Afghan people; now we must see that their country does not fall prey to our common enemies,” Obama said. “There will be difficult days ahead. But we will adapt, we will persist, and I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.”  [American forces have brought nothing but death, destruction and despair to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.]

In Iraq, he said, the United States is “poised” to end its combat operations this summer, leaving behind “an Iraq that provides no safe haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign, stable and self-reliant.”  [Total bullshit!  Every square inch of Iraq is safe for the right kind of acceptable terrorist…there is nothing that resembles “democracy” in Iran’s vassal state of Iraq…”sovereign, stable and self-reliant”???   Surely, Obama meant this as a joke?]

“You, and all who wear America’s uniform, remain the cornerstone of our national defense and the anchor of global security,” he said. “And through a period when too many of our institutions have acted irresponsibly, the American military has set a standard of service and sacrifice that is as great as any in this nation’s history.”

Civilians, he added, must answer the call of service as well, by securing America’s economic future, educating its children and confronting the challenges of poverty and climate change. The country must always pursue what he called the “universal rights” rooted in the Constitution.  [Here he is pushing his civilian form of the military again.    CONSTITUTION…WHAT CONSTITUTION?]

“We will promote these values above all by living them — through our fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution, even when it’s hard; and through our commitment to forever pursue a more perfect union,” he said.  [A more perfect union is one where the useless eaters understand their places.]

Obama praised the cadets’ pursuit of being “soldier-scholars” and lauded the records of academic excellence the Class of 2010 has set. He also noted that the class’s top two graduates are women, reflecting, the “indispensable role” that women play in the modern military.

“Here, in the quiet of these hills, you have come together to prepare for the most difficult tests of our time,” Obama said. “You signed up knowing your service would send you into harm’s way, and did so long after the first drums of war were sounded. In you we see the commitment of our country, and timeless virtues that have served our nation well.”

Islamic Fundamentalist Resistance To Pakistani Political Awakening

censoring dissent in Pakistan by wearing the Islamic national flag of pious virtue.

Mostaque Ali
One of my early mentors use to tell me that religion was a sham…….. (i) a cover under which much crime was committed, and (ii) the automatic closer of all avenues of rational human thought and inquiry about basic and fundamental issues in life that affect us all (religious fatalism)…”Ah this is God’s will”……”This must be Karma”…..thus further facilitating great and small crimes, injustices, inequalities, sheer absurdities, stupidity and backwardness. I have remained true to this advice from my mentor from an early age to this day…..and he was of course right.

When governments start using the religious blasphemy issue in order to impose censorship on freedom of expression then you have to ask………..whats up? Whats the real agenda hear? Whats actually going on?

Is Zardari bhen a Pak Muslim who is so concerned about offending the virtues of Islam that he must act against Youtube, or Twitter or Facebook? These sites played a crucial role in the Iranian Green revolution against the puppet mullahs installed by the USA/UK/France/Israel.

Is Zardari Bhen a Pak Muslim who never looted billions from the State coffers of Pakistan for many years through his wife?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who may have had a hand in killing his brother-in-law, just because he might have been a political threat to his wife’s leadership role within the PPP?

Is Zardari bhen the Pak Muslim guy who has just pardoned Rehman Malik, a certified crook, and basically told ALL certified crooks in the Pakistani government that they can commit any and all crimes in Pakistan, and Zardari Bhen will be there to pardon and protect them?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who by default is waging war against ordinary Pakistanis in the NWFP, by not pursuing alternative methods of conflict resolution?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who is proud to be a puppet of Washington, accepting ALL their dictates with daily meetings with the American ambassador Anne Paterson?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who is facilitating American forces in Pakistan to attack and kill many innocent civilians, and then lying about their actual existence with a straight face?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who as President of Pakistan publicly wanted to grope a foreign female representative in NY?

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who has allowed extremist Christian fundamentalist forces into Pakistan to act as a law unto themselves………Blackwater/Dyncorps/XE…….killing innocent Pakistani women and children at will? …….its leaders want to, asChristian Fundamentalists, “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,”

Is Zardari Bhen the Pak Muslim guy who has invited foreign mercenaries into Islamabad to protect him because he can’t trust his own people?

Is Zardari bhen the Pak Muslim guy who has gone into purdah, on the advice of Anne Paterson, thinking that out of sight out of mind?

Na! Zardari and his Kleptocractic cronies are scared that finally the Pakistani people might one day wake up to the crimes of his administration, and remove him and the Americans from Pakistan finally.

Offended by one page in Facebook, or on Youtube or Twitter has got NOTHING TO DO WITH IT ……………………..Secular urban Pakistanis Blasphem against Mohammed and Islam on a daily basis…….I know they do.

Zardari bhen and his kleptocratic cronies certainly do.

The Pakistan mainstream media such as PTV, Geo, Dawn and the Jang group don’t offer the real truth because they have been bought by Western intelligence, as has been the ISI. ……..as have the leading politicians………..as have the top military brass. What these do against simple ordinary Pakistani folk is standard formula, misleading, and misdirection by:

1. Introducing conspiracy narrative that is so complicated that ordinary Pakistanis become confused.

2. By offering fake sorrow, “Oh What can we do, this is bad, so sad…..but alas we are powerless”, rather than saying that the 180 million Pakistanis are powerful, and can take destiny into their own hands…..encourage, empower, proffer constructive clear simple advice, instigate and revolutionize.

3. Sustaining the myth of “al-Qaeda”, for America, and global International terrorism.

4. Not highlighting the links between the military and the Taliban, and ALL Islamist groups in Pakistan. Islamists didn’t just appear from no where, they were created, funded, armed and guided by the Pakistan military as proxy forces, and often encouraged by the USA since the late 1970’s, just as the USA military uses Christian fundamentalist in Blackwater/Dyncorp/XE.

5. That the Pakistani military actually carries out a lot of the terrorism within Pakistan under the principles of Gladio.

6. The security cooperation with the USA will ultimately lead to the breakup of Pakistan. Friendship with the USA has in no way benefited Pakistan over a span of 50 years, in fact quite the reverse. Yet the bought commentators of Pakistan remain ever hopeful that this fundamental paradigm will change for the good, tomorrow, next week, next month or maybe next year inshalah.

7. America has negative intentions towards Pakistan, and in the long term could invade Pakistan under the pretext of pursuing terrorists.

8. America wants to secure Pakistan’s nukes for Israel.

The ONLY people who highlight the truth of Pakistan’s present reality is people writing on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube……….because they have not been bought. On the other hand most of these sights are pre-occupied with very mundane trivia………. Pakistan government by its recent actions has shown that it is very nervous about this new phenomenon.

Hariri’s Wife Congratulates Sayyed Nasrallah on Resistance Day

Hariri’s Wife Congratulates Sayyed Nasrallah on Resistance Day

Nazik Hariri sent a letter to the Secretary General of Hizbullah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, for the Resistance & Liberation Day occasion on the 25th of May.
HaririAccording to Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA.ir), Mrs. Nazik Hariri sent a letter to the Secretary General of Hizbullah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, for the Resistance & Liberation Day occasion on the 25th of May, which stated the following:

“I am delighted and honored to extend to you, on behalf of myself and the family of the martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, our deep respect and congratulations for the coming Resistance and Liberation Day, and pray to God Almighty, that this day brings all the Lebanese the blessings of good health, prosperity and peace.

On this auspicious occasion, I cannot help but remember the words of martyr PM Rafik Hariri, who defended all his capabilities, Lebanon’s right to have occupation lifted from the land and people, and to reclaim their peace. He defined a path for peace, in an equitable and fair resolution to the problem of the Middle East.

Martyr PM Rafik Hariri used to say that the road to peace is but one road, based on a comprehensive solution through the application of United Nations resolutions, the restoration of the full rights, returning the right to its rightful owners and the restitution of the land to its people.

On February 14, 2005, martyr PM Rafik Hariri gave his life to peace and all its pillars. He fell as martyr for a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon, and for the principles of democracy, justice and moderation. Over the years, the Lebanese sacrificed all that is dear and precious to them for the same principles, until the struggle in Lebanon became an example and a lesson to the peoples and nations.

Today, in this crucial and sensitive stage Lebanon and the region are passing through, we are in urgent need to uphold the gains of our long struggle and the large inheritance left to us by martyr PM Rafik Hariri, your son martyr Hadi and all our martyrs who sacrificed their lives to protect the soil of the homeland, May God have mercy on their souls.

Perhaps this glorious day is an appropriate occasion for the consolidation of our commitment to our land and our preservation of peace and security there in, through maintaining our national unity, and renouncing all that fragments the Lebanese society.

Today may be an opportunity to tell the whole world, as martyr PM Rafik Hariri said: ‘We are the rightful owners and peace advocates, peace for all, based on international legitimacy, justice and national constants and the restoration of every inch of land.’

I ask God Almighty to bring this day upon us with goodness, peace and security prevailing over the beloved people of Lebanon and the Arab nation as a whole, and for Lebanon to regain every inch of its land that remains under occupation.

God bless our martyrs the strugglers, and may God Almighty make heaven their resting place.
With my sincerest appreciation and respect”.

End Item / 143

Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh considers “parliamentary elections” held by the separatist regime illegal

Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh considers "parliamentary elections" held by the separatist regime illegal

Azerbaijan, Baku, 23 May /Trend,  M.Aliyev/

“Scheduled “Parliamentary elections” are to be held on May 23, 2010 in Azerbaijan`s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is under the occupation of the Armed Forces ofArmenia. The Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh declares that these “elections” constitute a grave violation of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, norms and principles of international law, and do not take into consideration the voting right of the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh, who are the region`s native residents”, said in the statement of community.

Legitimate elections in the Nagorno-Karabakh region can be held only after the Armenian Armed Forces withdraw from the occupied territories, the Azerbaijani people return to their native lands and peaceful co-existence of the region`s Azerbaijani and Armenian communities is ensured.

The Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh hopes that the international community will strongly condemn Armenia`s non-constructive actions and take the most effective measures to force Armenia to stop its policy of occupation.

“We believe that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be settled on the basis of norms of international law, that the Azerbaijani people will return to their native lands and peaceful co-existence between the region`s two communities will be ensured”, the statement says.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France, and the U.S. – are currently holding the peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at trend@trend.az

Drawing a line: Pakistan’s jihad against the Internet

Drawing a line: Pakistan’s jihad against the Internet

By Urooj Zia

A couple of months ago, when self-styled ‘security analyst’ Zaid Hamid’s anti-India vitriol started getting out of hand, a group of Pakistanis got together on Facebook to condemn his hate speech and calls for war against ‘Hindu Zionists’. There were jokes about ‘Jihad-e-Facebook’ and ‘Ghazwa-e-YouTube’ because, like former dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, that’s where an overwhelming majority of Hamid’s supporters were anyway. No one could have thought at the point that an organ of the state would declare jihad against Facebook, but that is exactly what has happened. On 19 May, on a petition filed by a group calling itself the Islamic Lawyers Movement, the Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block Facebook in response to the perceived blasphemy of a single page about ‘Draw Muhammad Day’.

It all started in April, when the creators of the animated TV series South Park decided to take a stand in favour of free speech in their 200th episode, which showed, among other things, Jesus watching porn, the Buddha smoking pot, and the Prophet Muhammad in a teddy-bear costume. Comedy Central, the series’ broadcaster, censured the bits with Muhammad and bleeped-out parts that mentioned his name; but unedited versions of the episode quickly made their way around the Internet. The creators were not happy with the additional censoring when they had, in their opinion, taken care not to depict any picture of Muhammad, per se – only the teddy-bear costume.

In the opinion of jihadis, however, the South Park team wasn’t ‘careful’ enough. RevolutionMuslim.com (an American jihadi website, which, incidentally, is still accessible in Pakistan, as is almost every other webpage of the same genre) reacted by issuing dire threats to the creators and producers of the series. ‘We have to warn Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show,’ a post on the website claimed. Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was killed in 2004 by a Muslim for a movie that he had made that said that Islam condoned violence against women. As if the warning post weren’t bad enough, it was also accompanied by a graphic photo of Van Gogh, along with a link to a news article with details of a mansion in Colorado that Parker and Stone are said to own – ‘we know where to find you’ style.

RevolutionMuslim’s Younus Abdullah Muhammad, however, is quick to defend himself, basing his innocence on the claim that he did not ‘send anyone’ to the Colorado mansion to ‘conduct violence’, and that he was not worried that his post would incite violence against the South Park team. ‘How is that a threat? Showing a case study right there of what happened to another individual who conducted himself in a very similar manner? It’s just evidence,’ he claimed in an interview with Reuters.

Irritated with Comedy Central’s censorship and the ensuing threats, American cartoonist Molly Norris decided to take a stand of her own. She came up with a cartoon poster on behalf of a fictitious group – Citizens against Citizens against Humour – declaring 20 May as Draw Muhammad Day. The idea caught on and a website sprang up, as well as a Facebook event and ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’, though they went unnoticed for a while. The group’s stated purpose was to stand against censorship in all forms. Their aim, according to one of the creators, Andy, was ‘not anti-Muslim, [but] pro-free speech and public discourse and art and satire’. The group, Andy says, has ‘no intention to offend moderate Muslims, but to defend the rights for everyone to express themselves as they want, without being silenced by death threats.’

Ban them all!

Thousands of miles away, in Pakistan, sources say that the conservative Islamic Lawyers Movement (ILM) first approached the PTA to try and get the website banned; the latter refused, instead only blocking specific pages related to Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Not satisfied, the ILM filed a petition with the Lahore High Court, seeking a blanket ban. To their credit, when PTA representatives were called into court, they defended their initial stance on grounds that a blanket ban would result in major monetary losses for Pakistani businesses, particular small and medium-sized ones, which use Facebook for advertising and redirecting customers to their respective websites and stores.

The High Court was having none of it, and ordered a ban on Facebook. The PTA complied, but did not stop there. Within hours and over the following days, the ban was extended unilaterally to YouTube, then to around 400 websites, then approximately 850 specific links, and then, at last count, to around 1100 links. The photo-sharing website Flickr came under the axe as well, as did Wikipedia, Twitter, google.com.pk and Gmail, though only sporadically; and while the PTA had initially promised to leave ‘media websites’ alone, the left-leaning Huffington Post, and some CNN and Washington Post blogs, among many others, were also blocked. These websites, it should be noted, were not hosting ‘blasphemous’ content, but were merely discussing the general issue.

Blackberry services, meanwhile, were also suspended for almost 24 hours, only to be restored without the web browser and Blackberry Facebook application, while GPRS and EDGE services remained unreliable for almost as long. ‘Anything which is deemed blasphemous will be blocked,’ PTA public-relations director Khurram Mehran declared. ‘Blasphemy is serious business. It is against our religion and the Constitution, and we have our orders from the [Lahore High Court]. We do not make decisions; our job is to simply implement them.’



This trend of banning websites began in 2006, under Gen Musharraf’s government, when the Danish cartoon controversy arose. As a result, Blogspot and WordPress, two popular blogging sites, remained inaccessible in Pakistan for several months. Many other bans followed, most notably in 2007 during the lawyers’ movement, and particularly after a state of emergency was declared on 3 November of that year. The PTA, in its tendency towards hasty banning, has in the past committed major blunders. Most recently, while trying to ban YouTube in February 2008, PTA and some ISPs together managed not only to choke Pakistan’s Internet backbone, but also to bring down the entire YouTube website worldwide – making the PTA the first government organisation ever to nuke a website.

This time around too, armed with the High Court’s orders, the PTA swung into action, again without much planning. A ‘crisis cell’ was set up with a toll-free number and a dedicated e-mail address, which anyone could use to report ‘blasphemous’ websites. While Mehran refused to divulge the number of personnel dedicated to the crisis cell, or the procedure in place to vet URLs posted by complainants, other sources at the PTA said that only three people were working at the cell. Whatever procedure is in place, it seems far more reactive than proactive, which is alarming seeing as how charges of blasphemy carry a death sentence in Pakistan. ‘We know what we’re doing, and our staff are very technically sound,’ was all Mehran would say. ‘We look into content, but if mistakes are made, or if someone reports a non-blasphemous website out of malafide intent, you can tell us about it and we’ll take steps to correct them.’

Mehran’s claims don’t carry much substance, however, given the fact that, out of the nearly 1100 links that had been blocked since 19 May, many had nothing to do with ‘blasphemy’. According to some reports, even the Let Us Build Pakistan page, which had, last week, broken the story of TV anchor Hamid Mir’s alleged conversation with a member of the Punjabi Taliban, leading to the death of a former ISI operative, was also blocked for some hours. Mehran also denied the existence of any specific list of websites and links that are to be blocked. Other sources within the PTA, however, conceded that a list had been handed down (they refused to say by whom), and that new websites and links were being added to it constantly.

In the meantime, the Jamaat-e-Islami (which got less than five percent of the total votes cast during the February 2008 elections) and other religious parties organised protests in various cities. These protests received favourable coverage from much of the local media, a large chunk of which has historically stood extremely right of centre. Interestingly, most of the participants at these protests did not have access to the Internet, have never heard of Facebook, and have no concept of a ‘social networking’ website. Many television reporters and desk editors apparently fall in the technologically illiterate category as well, became clear by the many breathless proclamations on news broadcasts about how ‘a website, Facebook, had organised a competition to make blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh).’

Opposing the ban openly, however, can still land one in a sticky situation, as one group of activists found out the hard way. On the evening of 20 May, the group called a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, condemning the ban on Facebook and calling for a rational discussion. At the same time, a group of Sunni Muslim hardliners was protesting outside the Press Club against Facebook. Somehow, word about the press conference got reached the protestors outside, and the moment the anti-censorship advocates stepped out of the building they were attacked. They were eventually saved by some journalists who pulled them back into the press club, called the police, and sent them home with a police escort.

Dangerous precedents

Amidst the hullaballoo, many seem to have forgotten that several sects in Islam, including the Shia, actively make pictures and symbolic representations of Muhammad and his family. Such pictures can be found all over rural Iran, for instance, despite attempts by hardline ayatollahs to outlaw them. Moreover, Islamic injunctions that are used to justify a ban on making pictures or depictions of Muhammad and his friends and family also outlaw any and all pictures and sculptures as a pre-emptive protection against idol worship – a fact that many Muslim users of Facebook seem to conveniently forget.

The Lahore High Court is known for maverick, unsubstantiated judgments with little regard to judicial precedents. Some years ago, one judge set aside all evidence – including medico-legal and chemical examinations, statements of witnesses and experts, and relevant laws – in a incest/rape case, with a judgment that claimed that a brother cannot possibly rape his sister, and that the girl was therefore lying. Punjab’s reputation as an active hub of Islamic extremism is also substantiated by many Lahore High Court judgments, which seem to quote scripture as much as the law and Constitution.

According to reports, not a single religious scholar or technical expert was called upon to depose before the court in the Facebook matter. The High Court’s order, therefore, was based entirely on the petition of the ILM. While the PTA has censured websites for various reasons in the past, this is the first incident of the involvement of an organ of the state in blanket censorship of this sort. Clearly, this sets a dangerous precedent one that the mainstream media now needs to think about as well. If a court can issue orders for censoring a website on the basis of ‘heresy’, can there be any guarantee that similar steps will not be taken in the future against the local media – print, TV and online – if reports or opinions are perceived to be ‘unfavourable’?

Many Muslims also need to realise that questioning or critiquing their religion does not necessarily amount to insult. Islam does not discourage questions, and even the Kalimah (the proclamation of faith), begins with ‘La ilaha illallah…’ (there is no god…) before proclaiming ‘Illallah, wa muhammad gasoolullah’ (but god, and Muhammad is His messenger). In the meantime, by banning these websites, the government seems to have forgotten the white portion of the Pakistani flag, indicating the existence of religious minorities in the country. Can one religion’s laws be applied forcefully to another religion, especially if it means massive monetary losses for everyone concerned?

The creators of the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day had encouraged members to stick to humour, wit and creativity in their depictions of Muhammad, and not to resort to hate speech. In any large campaign, however, trolls are bound to enter, as they did in this one as well, from both sides of the divide. The relevant Facebook page eventually attracted Islam-bashers, as well as Muslims who tried to prove that their religion was peaceful while abusing others. While a section of Muslims may feel that depictions of their prophet is against Islam, they also need to understand this only means that they cannot draw pictures or make sculptures of Muhammad.

‘The overreactions many Muslim extremists showed the world in [the Danish cartoons episode of] 2006 were despicable and cannot be defended by the Quran, Muhammad or Allah,’ Andy, one of the campaign’s creators, said. ‘They use their religion to justify violence – no one has told them to do so; these are their own actions, trying to keep their religion from criticism by appearing in violent and murderous mobs to silence those who dare oppose them. This scare tactic has seemingly worked, and this is part of what we oppose and work against.’

Indefinite ban?
On 21 May, a hacker identifying himself with a Muslim name reportedly broke into Andy’s computer and took down the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day Facebook page. New ones sprang up, but Facebook has apparently given in – almost none of them are accessible from Pakistan, even if they exist.

In Pakistan, meanwhile, the ban currently looks like it may well be indefinite, with websites and links blocked and unblocked arbitrarily, causing heavy losses to businesses and entrepreneurs. To proponents of the ban, this holds little meaning: China, they claim, has been ‘progressing’ quite well without Facebook, YouTube – or free speech, one may add. A society cannot really grow intellectually and socially, however, when members learn to not question anything. A citizenry that has mentally been reduced to a herd of cattle can function in the short run, but closed-mindedness is bound to take a toll, especially in a country such as Pakistan, which is already trying to battle the demons of intolerance and religious extremism.

As the good folks at the wiscatheists blog put it: ‘We must all eventually come to the agreement that no religion, person, idea, or sacred cow should be granted immunity from criticism. In a free society, even opinions which the majority may find reprehensible have the right to be heard. Among these is the right to criticise religion and to perform actions considered “blasphemous.” When that right is under threat, as is clearly is today, we have a moral obligation to exercise it to ensure that it is not lost. We cannot tolerate limitations to our freedom of expression, whether they come from violence, intimidation, or self-censorship out of political correctness.’

The problem, however, lies at the heart of this divide – for each side, the opponent is an undefined ‘other’ out to get them. For the protesting Muslims, liberalism and free speech are ‘Western’ concepts, which encourage ‘attacks’ on Islam; for proponents of free speech, the offence taken by Muslims, even seemingly moderate ones, is an aberration of secular values and a sign of ‘backwardness’. At the end of the day, however, banning an entire population from access to large chunks of the Internet is going to affect only the citizens and businesses of Pakistan. It will not stop ‘blasphemous’ content, nor will it encourage peaceful, civilised debates and exchange of ideas and culture. One hopes that sanity will prevail on all sides, and the battle lines that have been drawn by ignorance and vested interests will be blurred and eventually erased in favour of pluralism and understanding.

Urooj Zia is a journalist based in Karachi