Dear Facebook, stop censoring Kashmir

Published: July 21, 2016

But it’s an embarrassment on Facebook’s part, that his post sympathising with the separatist movement, and the recently executed Kashmiri militant – Burhan Wani.

As a Pakistani writer of Kashmiri descent, it may not be entirely possible for me to speak without prejudice; but what’s one humble blogger’s bias against an iron curtain drawn over Kashmir by powers barely within my comprehension?

If you’re outside Pakistan, and not politically motivated to draw your attention towards the gruesome events unfolding in Indian-administered Kashmir, it’s likely that you’re unaware of the gravity of this matter. And you’re not entirely to blame for your ignorance.

You could be a hearing-impaired, computer-illiterate villager in Irkutsk, Russia, and you haven’t managed to keep yourself from finding out about a deadly rampage in Paris. But to find out about Indian forces open-firing at protesters in Qazigund, South Kashmir, you’ve had to actively burrow your way into sparingly-tweeted sites of the social media with the air of Gandalf digging through a mountain of dusty tomes to find the account of Isildur.

With no papers, no mobile services, and two barely-functional TV news channels, social media giants like Facebook have re-confirmed their allegiance to the highest corridors of power, rather than the grassroots. Many Kashmiri bloggers and news analysts have complained about their posts disappearing without warning.

Hamza Ali Abbasi – self-righteous, jingoist-extraordinaire – is a man I take no pleasure standing up for. But it’s an embarrassment on Facebook’s part, that his post sympathising with the separatist movement, and the recently executed Kashmiri militant – Burhan Wani – was also removed.

Photo: Screenshot

Abbasi has often criticised Western establishments, and media powerhouses based in the West, for censoring Muslim voices and betraying their own sacrosanct ‘free speech’ principles. People like Abbasi may redress this matter as a global conspiracy against the flag-bearers of Islam; but the truth, I suspect, is less colourful and a lot more boring.

Photo: Screenshot

The present chaos and media prejudice cannot be summed up within a West versus Islam, or Hinduism versus Islam, paradigm. It is a simple case of the powerful displaying their apathy for the less powerful, unless caring is politically profitable. It’s a matter of the colonialist’s obvious antipathy for the colonised – and the latter’s dehumanisation as “laaton ke bhoot” who wouldn’t understand a language other than organised violence.

And Abbasi’s right.

We’ve seen this cyclical pattern in Palestine: of oppression generating insurgence; and insurgence held up as an excuse to validate oppression.

Secular liberals who are wary of the Pakistani establishment’s exuberance in highlighting the political and military struggles of the Kashmiri people, and petrified of the resistance movement in Kashmir being spearheaded by Islamist outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen, must allow themselves a macro view of the on-going atrocities. I empathise with their concern for Islamo-nationalism inspired distortion of ground realities, but this is bigger than the sum of its grotesque constituents visible in a cross-sectional frame of present.

The present resistance is not a tentacle of a global jihadist uprising. Burhan Wani’s own radicalisation can be traced back to the violent death of his brother, Khalid, at the hands of the Indian forces. Islamist resistance movements are often bolstered by dangerous religious rhetoric, but are forged by personal losses and politico-economic despair.

The Indian establishment now struggles to explain how foreign interference alone could have conjured hundreds of thousands of protesters, when the actions of their own forces and the strokes of their own pens in the last half a century, have been nothing short of ‘noble’.

And right-leaning social liberals, with little cognisance of the state of terror Kashmiris have lived under for so long, spring forth to magnanimously offer the oppressed free courses on anger management. They usually have little comprehension of the anxieties of people who are unable to contact their families and friends in Kashmir; or the despair of people blinded by pellet guns; or the countless Kashmiri curfewed families whose homes are raided and ransacked without warning from time to time.

“Do not glorify militants like Wani!”

They sing self-assuredly, in defence of Facebook’s censorship. It’s an outstanding recommendation, except for the lack of follow-up advice on using non-violent alternatives that haven’t yet been sealed by an unyielding military establishment.

Nationalists like Mr Abbasi may be politically motivated to make a plea for Kashmiris’ right of self-determination, and it’s unlikely that he’d make a tall claim of representing the Kashmiri people (neither would I).

But Kashmir needs to be heard, however it can be, and we all need to pay a bit more attention. You too, Zuckerberg.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ds sarma

    If face book becomes a part of the terror campaign of Pakistan, then face book will disappear from India.
    Mr Zukerberg knows this well.Recommend

  • Parvez

    If I am not wrong India has about 100 million Facebook users, making it the largest or second largest user…….. and bottom line is that Facebook is a commercial venture in which the customer has to be pandered too…..Facebook is but human and it has failings. Right from day one I have stayed away from Facebook….what ever cat, dog or baby pictures / videos worth seeing are shown to me by my wife.Recommend

  • UR

    Well written Faraz. One thing I would like to add that is also frustrating the Kashmiris is the rape and humiliation of muslim women by Indian militaryRecommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Brilliant article Faraz.Recommend

  • ravi

    FB is not a pakistani propaganda tool but a commercial venture. He was popular but militant and was bound to be eliminated.Recommend

  • vinsin

    What about Kashmiri Pandits?Recommend

  • Thomas

    India will kill all terrorists, pakistani and kashmiri. Take that to the bank.!!!!!!Recommend

  • DJ Srrma

    what`s wrong with Pak people ? Its OK if you support so called “freedom movement” by some misguided Kashmiri natives , but supporting a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist is just plain crime against Pak’s own citizens . The banned terrorist outfit has connection with AQ network and Talibans , the same people who carried out crime against Pak. It seems PAK people have incredibly short memory or just too blinded by hate against India to forget incidents like APS massacre and other. Don’t cry when Talibans carry out next massacre .Recommend

  • [email protected]

    There are too many Indian bigots on news sites in Pakistan. Who’s to kick them out?Recommend

  • PatelPara

    yucckk…who would rape a kashmiri pandit?Recommend

  • UR

    @wb You forgot to mention names of terrorists like Modi, Bal Thakrey, Bush, Blair. How naive you are???Recommend

  • UR

    Aka we will respect the rights and wills of Kashmiris, if they want a separate country, worlds biggest democracy will honor it one dayRecommend

  • UR

    Good to know that you support Kashmiri freedom fighters Recommend

  • Soul Speek

    Look at the mirror. Your own bigotry will ashame you!Recommend

  • Ash Kumar

    Dear wb,

    People like you make me proud as a peacock. I want to hug you and tell you what a fine person you are. The rest of the world will never understand what it means to be an Indian and to live in this vast sea of diversity. Your post gave me goose bumps. The kind I get when I hear the national anthem. And yes, anyone who stands against India will be wiped out. I don’t care who that person is, where he/she is from. India first. Above everything else. People like Faraz Talat can’t even begin to comprehend it. No matter how hard they try to divide us between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs etc, secular India will survive. As it has for thousands of years.Recommend

  • Milind A

    How true!! And the same confused Pakistanis shed tears on the APS massacre ….Recommend

  • wb

    Shame on ET for distorting my commentRecommend

  • salman ahmed

    As you are not among those who have banned Ahmadis.. Why dont you raise voice????Recommend

  • salman ahmed

    Easy to write on internet … why dont you have census there and take nod on “your” point of view???Recommend

  • salman ahmed

    Mind you.. freedom fighters not terrorist.. even Gandhi would have been blocked on facebook during british independence days!!!!!! terrorists are not classified on your biased opnionsRecommend

  • Hameed

    Do you approve of Baluchi mutilated bodies by you know who?Recommend

  • salman ahmed

    Who has given you the authority of “right” & “wrong” judgment… who is against India is wrong only !!!!! huh…. kill all kashmiri muslim??? who is killing them? Brutual occupiersRecommend

  • salman ahmed

    & yes remember your inlaws “RSS”Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    There are many people I don’t want eulogized or lionized. Christopher Columbus. George W. Bush. Modi, quite a few Pakistani officials on the list too. All of them responsible for more deaths than Wani can cause in seven lifetimes.

    Yet, Facebook has few moral concerns about people using this platform to exalt their name.

    Pick your poison, I guess..Recommend

  • wb

    Those who take gun against the government in a free state on the name of religion are terrorists.Recommend

  • wb

    No. Kill only Kashmiri Wahabi separatist Muslims.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    these Darbari constructs are now fighting with each other. The enslavers ie ruling elite (52 families) in the west have become adept at using Islam as WMD, just as all kinds barbarians (Mongols, Turks, Afghans, Persians) in medieval times were. Hope Anglos don’t direct Islamic anger at India and its culture. They are making Muslims fight natives such as Hindu and Boudh of Asia. Islamic wolf is at their door step. No longer they can be safe from this wolf. India, China and Russia need to be smart and make sure that they together protect themselves from this Anglo’s WMD. Yesterday it was Russia fought alone, Today India is fighting alone against Islam. Tomorrow it will be definitely China’s turn.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Secularism is also a deadly tool in hands of Anglos to beat India just as Islam. Recommend

  • Maverick

    The tweet and your article are lies – Burhan did not become a militant because his brother was killed – his brother was killed when he was going to meet Burhan and join him when Burhan was already a terrorist. This shows how you guys manipulated the truth and spread lies to propagate your own agenda. The remaining world doesn’t sympathise with terrorists like you Pakistanis. They care about innocent lives saved by killing such elements.Recommend

  • Derek

    Against the plight of Ahmedis in Pakistan?
    Yes sure!Recommend