For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
June 10, 2014
Responding to Pakistan’s crackdown on free expression on Twitter and other Internet media, a coalition of secularist organizations today launched a campaign urging Pakistan to end its censorship of social media, and encouraging Twitter to reject censorship requests from Pakistan.
The Pakistani government, in particular the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) acting under the country’s infamous and severe blasphemy laws, has demanded that Twitter censor both user accounts and individual posts that it considers to be offensive to the religious feelings of Muslims. Twitter, under its official policy of allowing country-specific requests to block content, has complied on several occasions, most notably for posts participating in “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day,” which is itself a direct rebuke of censorship and a celebration of free expression.
Throughout the day on June 10, groups and individuals protesting Pakistan’s censorship will tweet content and links in support of free expression, accompanied by the hashtag #TwitterTheocracy.
In addition, members of the coalition—which includes the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the Ex-Muslims of North America, and a wide array of freethought groups—have signed on to a letter to Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Masood Khan, and written by CFI’s public policy director, Michael De Dora.
The letter reminds Pakistan of its obligations under Articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provide for freedom of thought, expression, belief, and inquiry, as well as its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed by Pakistan in 2008), which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom from coercion by the state. Censoring of content on Twitter simply because it may offend religious sensibilities, and persecuting those who publish this content, are clear violations of these principles to which Pakistan has agreed.
The letter makes a plea to Pakistan’s own self-interest, stating, “The ability to think freely, to have doubt, to investigate doubt, and to arrive at new conclusions, advances our shared communities. To survive and flourish, we must learn to civilly discuss important matters, including and especially religion. True political and economic stability depends on openness, and falls quickly in the face of censorship.”
The Center for Inquiry on Twitter: @center4inquiry
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.