Imran Khan writes to Facebook calling for ban on Islamophobia 'just like ban on Holocaust denial'

Mayank Aggarwal
·3-min read
File: Imran Khan tells Mark Zuckerberg the world risks seeing a ‘similar pogrom’ towards Muslims today (REUTERS)
File: Imran Khan tells Mark Zuckerberg the world risks seeing a ‘similar pogrom’ towards Muslims today (REUTERS)

Pakistan’s Imran Khan written to Facebook’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg asking for a ban on Islamophobia on the platform, saying it should be treated the same way as Holocaust denial.

The prime minister and former cricket star said the world should not have to wait for a “pogrom against Muslims” to be completed “before Islamophobia is banned”.

Highlighting the French response to the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, Mr Khan warned that “marginalisation inevitably leads to extremism”, adding that is “something the world does not need”.

Under pressure from governments across the world calling for action to prevent social networks becoming a medium for spreading hate and misinformation, Facebook has taken a number of corrective steps.

Earlier this month, the platform banned the posting of any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust - a step that was welcomed by many. In August, the social media platform used by more than 2.5 billion people worldwide had banned hate speech such as content depicting blackface or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.

In his letter to Mr Zuckerberg on Sunday evening, the Pakistani prime minister called for attention to the “growing Islamophobia that is encouraging hate, extremism and violence across the world” especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I appreciate you taking the step to rightly ban any posting that criticises or questions the Holocaust, which was the culmination of the Nazi pogrom of the Jews in Germany and across Europe... However, today we are seeing a similar pogrom against Muslims in different parts of the world,” said Mr Khan.

Mr Khan said that Muslims are being denied their citizenship rights and democratic freedoms to dress and worship as they choose. Citing neighbouring India as well as France as an example, he said that in India, anti-Muslim laws and measures such as “CAA and NRC as well as targeted killings of Muslims and blaming Muslims for coronavirus are reflective of the abominable phenomenon of Islamophobia”.

“In France, Islam has been associated with terrorism and publication of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and our Holy Prophet (PBUH) has been allowed. This will lead to further polarisation and marginalisation of Muslims in France. How will the French distinguish between radical extremist Muslim citizens and the mainstream Muslim citizenry of Islam?” he questioned.

Mr Khan demanded a ban on Islamophobia given the “rampant abuse and vilification of Muslims on social media platforms” stating that the “message of hate must be banned in total” as “one cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others.”

In response to Mr Khan's appeal, a Facebook spokesperson said the company was against all forms of hate and that it did not allow attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

"We'll remove this hate speech as soon as we become aware of it," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company accepted it still had "more work to do".

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