Newest friends on Facebook? Pakistan militants.
Pakistan militant groups are using Facebook, Twitter, and text messages to share their views and even incite violence. They are targeting a wider, more educated, and urban, audience. The Pakistan government has "no plans" to block the messages.
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“The government is dealing with so much on so many fronts it probably does not want to open another front. They do not want to antagonize the right wing too much,” he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Even when content is blocked, Hizb-ut-Tahrir spokesman Naveed Butt says the group’s web developers can usually find workarounds.
“Our conventional methods are closed to us, because our party is banned. Our public gatherings are closed. So we have to be inventive. We have to embrace new methods,” he says.
Butt claims that the SMS blasts are beginning to influence its target audience of “influential people” such as parliamentarians, lawyers, students, and journalists. “We’re steadily growing in number, as educated people realize democracy will never deliver. Practically they are seeing there is no way out for Pakistan. Secularism will never work. People are committing suicide, people are dying.”
With each wall post on Facebook, Butt receives dozens of “likes,” a one-click feature that allows fans to show approval, and a deluge of positive responses. “[These attacks] are the mission of all the unbelievers and our government are slaves to them,” writes a supporter, Muhammad Shahid Arif.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is also banned in several Arab countries for engaging in “anti-state” activity and is barred from public activity in Germany for spreading anti-Semitic propaganda.
An ‘important’ mission
Khutum-e-Naboohat faces no such difficulties in keeping its operations running. According to Mr. Rashid, wealthy donors help pay the bills while the tech-savvy youngsters among its ranks maintain their website.
“We either work from home or from the computers here in the mosque,” says Umar Shah, a web designer. “It’s important to spare time for this mission because it’s a matter of our faith.”
Among some of the claims sent out: “[Ahmadis] are agents of Israel and they are funded, protected and trained by the imperialist and capitalist powers.”
Another text declares Ahmadis apostates of Islam who should be given three days to repent. “Otherwise he should be given the punishment of a Murtad [traitor] which is capital punishment.”
Saleem-ul-Haque Khan, an Ahmadi lawyer who survived the May attack on his mosque, says the attackers entered the building shouting the Khutum-e-Naboohat slogan (“Long live the finality of the Prophet!”) and that the same group had held demonstrations outside his mosque two weeks earlier. “The government has never tried to stop it,” he says.
The authorities did, however, recently block Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and mobile Blackberry services in response to a controversial Facebook competition to draw the Prophet Mohammed, which is considered a taboo in Islam. Websites are still being monitored for such “blasphemous” content, according to Khurram Mehran, a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority
“It seems we’re more concerned about our own feelings getting hurt,” says Mr. Alam, the editor, “and not so concerned about others’ feelings or their rights.”
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