As we covered yesterday, Hamza Ali Abbasi posted a status on Facebook in which he condemned the killing of cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo, the French satirist magazine. The post was subsequently deleted by Facebook and the actor’s account was temporarily blocked.
When Facebook user, Angelic Munni, asked about why the post was deleted, Mark Zuckerberg said:
“I don’t think this should have been blocked. Our team might have made a mistake. Justin, can you look into this?”
The Justin in question is Justin Osofsky, who is the Vice President of Global Operations and Media Partnerships for Facebook.
Hamza spoke to Dawn about the incident. Here is what he said on finding out his account had been blocked:
“I had been trying to log into my Facebook for a couple of hours and it wasn’t accepting the password. I genuinely thought it had been hacked but then I got an email from Facebook saying that my account had been temporarily blocked and my status had been deleted and this was the first of three warnings. That really made me angry so I took the screen grab and posted it as soon as I had access to my account.”
On this particular post being deleted, he said:
“I post so many controversial things on my Facebook, I believe in voicing my opinion. It’s just funny that their selective freedom of speech caused them to delete only this particular post of all things.”
Upon learning Zuckerberg had personally responded, he said:
“I’m glad that it has gotten back to him and that it’s brought attention to exactly what I was trying to convey in my post. Freedom of expression that is not universal is not really freedom, is it?
Expanding upon his original point in the post that was deleted, he said:
“It’s not fair that when we say things that go against the West, we are branded as racists or intolerant. One is allowed to disagree, one is allowed to criticise but we must not make fun of exemplary/religious figures. I can make fun of Gandhi but that doesn’t mean I will. It’s important to address such issues and convey our message in the most civilised manner possible. When you stoop to a level of derogatory insults, there is a possibility of some backlash from a community of over two billion people.”
While the response has been lauded by some, many are arguing that the post did indeed violate Facebook community guidelines since it hints at violence towards the end. If you aren’t aware, if a post incites, advocates or justifies hatred or violence, it does not count as free speech.
UPDATE: Justin Osofsky, who is the Vice President of Global Operations and Media Partnerships for Facebook has admitted removal of the post was a mistake.