In a previous post (The Eclipse of Reason and Growing Religious Intolerance / October 29) I highlighted the growing influence of religious extremists on Facebook after the social network administration banned a decent picture of Dana Bakdounes, posted on the page of The Uprising of Women in the Arab World that was reported to be “insulting” by some religious extremists. Once the Facebook administration responded to the report it was clear that religious extremists, reactionists and anti-feminists found the point of maximum vulnerability and targeted it to suppress the Facebook based movement.
Yesterday a new attempt to shut down the voice of The Uprising of Women in the Arab World took place: accounts of the page’s five admins were blocked. A press release was issued yesterday by the page admins:
According to Facebook, those persons had violated its policy by sharing a post asking for supporting Dana Bakdounes on Twitter. The message that was sent to the admins as the reasoning for the ban from Facebook was: “You have posted a content that violates Facebook Community Rules, the post says: Follow us on Twitter @UprisingOFWomen. Support Dana with hashtag #WindToDana”
This puts the whole Uprising in front of a new challenge: instead of struggling to make real achievements on the level of juridical system, civil rights and social equality, the attacks on the Facebook page moved the battle to a virtual field. It is now more a battle for the right to exist rather than a battle to achieve legal rights.
Though the social media network is required to examine the content reported before removing or banning, the Uprising of Women in the Arab World should have been aware of the risk of its material being removed after a shower of reports from foes. With such a big number of supporters (61,685 likes on Facebook) and a similar number of enemies, The Uprising of Women should have a better strategy to protect the content of its pages and promote its causes. Such a big progressive aggregation of women (and men supporters) struggling for freedom and equality cannot stay under Facebook’s umbrella.
Using an independent website or blog may be a better strategy. The pages of the site can be shared and “liked” on Facebook. More content can be placed on the site with minimal fees (though funding such a site is not a hard task). Photos of supporters can be uploaded to the site directly and then shared not only on Facebook, but also on plenty other similar venues. A website can also contain a free library, documentaries and other media that supports the cause.
It is really a shame that fossil minds are forcing one of the most beautiful and noble manifestations of women’s longing for freedom to be banned. It is indeed new Middle Ages that we are going through. Even the free virtual space is getting narrow when dominated by narrow minded religious fanatics.