Today over at Skepchicks, Heina Dadabhoy created a post pointing out something rather disgusting that twitter has done recently, quoting from a page over at the Ex Muslims of North America she points outs,
Twitter has agreed to use its ‘Country Withheld Tool’ to block “blasphemous tweets” in Pakistan, thus becoming complicit in suppressing free speech, and in aiding Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Over the past month, Twitter accounts have been suspended and tweets have been blocked in Pakistan; a Twitter user has recently been jailed in Turkey for a “blasphemous” tweet. In Pakistan and other theocracy-based states, blasphemy laws are key tools used by those in power to actively persecute minorities.
Anti-blasphemy laws, like their anti-apostasy counterparts, are yet another way to suppress minority groups’ freedom of expression and punish those who express any views deviating from the mainstream.
And its not just her, or the EMNA that has mentioned this. In addition The New York Times has also reported on it and so has Aljazeera. This isn’t that surprising, unfortunately. Its not the first time something like this has happened. Awhile back Google agreed to censor its search results on its Chinese language version, so they would be allowed to operate in China.
google.cn — the Chinese language version of the search portal — debuted Wednesday with the company acknowledging the balancing act it was attempting to perform.
“In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy,” a Google statement said.
“While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.”
Here’s the text from the “Twitter Theocracy” petition that was created to get Twitter to change its policy.
Twitter has agreed to use its ‘Country Withheld Tool’ to block “blasphemous” tweets in Pakistan. Blasphemy laws are used in Pakistan and elsewhere to suppress dissent and persecute minorities who face state and vigilante violence at the mere accusation of blasphemy. Twitter is being complicit in suppressing free speech, and in aiding Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
We urge Twitter and all other international companies and organizations to uphold human rights-based standards of conduct, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Tell Twitter that human rights trump theocratic oppression, and that you will not tolerate censorship of dissenters who are trying to speak up against theocratic and oppressive regimes.
Sign this petition and join us on June 10 by tweeting using hashtag #TwitterTheocracy. Use the freedom of speech you still have to defend the same human right for everyone. For more info, visit the campaign against #TwitterTheocracy page.
Remember to spread the word among your own social networks!
Please consider signing the petition, this is an important free speech and freedom of religion issue.