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article imageOp-Ed: Why is the 'Draw Mohammed Day' Facebook Page gone?

By Johnny Simpson     May 22, 2010 in World
'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' was most eventful. A culture war raged at Facebook on Thursday. Pakistan blocked both it and YouTube, and people rioted in the streets. Now it looks like the EDMD Facebook page may have fallen victim to a Turkish cyberjihadi.
UPDATE: EDMD was hacked? As into Infinite Oblivion. Devastating blow. A cyberspace car bomb for sure. I'll bet Al Qaeda kingpin and media guru Ayman al-Zawahiri will run with that one for a month! Not us, thought.
Sadly, the Jawa Report has just relayed the story of how the main 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' Facebook page (which had reached over 100,000 members and made a lot of news at the time of its going offline approximately 9:00pm on May 20), has been brilliantly hacked by a cyberjihadi and Ghost in the Great Satan Machine from Turkey who goes by the name of Mr. Ali Hassan. I called a possible hack by Ali in a 4:59pm update yesterday. There were reports, but they were difficult to confirm at the time.
Hey, credit where credit is due. Ali PWNED 'em! And most of us by extension. But it is most comforting to know it was just a wily cyberjihadi and not Facebook self-censorship. Caving to the Alis have would have failed the key test of EDMD: extend our freedoms of speech and expression end at the Prophet Mohammed? If true, as appeared to occur with Comedy Central censoring South Park, then how are we any different from Pakistan? What next? So Long, Achmed? And here I was, thinking America was rooted in rudeness. Hell, I thought the rights to offend and provoke were among our greatest liberties! What changed?
But the fact is, 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' turns out to have been a rousing success for the Free West in its purpose as a vigorous exercise of free speech under challenge. The South Park censorship changed the key question for free men and women in the West to one not of whether we should draw images of the Prophet Mohammed, but of whether we can. Statement made. And is still being made at the second Everybody Draw Mohammad Day Facebook Page. Facebook may have been censored by Pakistan, but they did not censor themselves here. That was the free speech droid we were looking for. Now we know we can.
Can I get a Rebel Yell on that one? Oh, and I now apologize to Facebook for calling them even bigger chokers than the 2004 Yankees for believing they pulled it down. That said, they should have got right out in front of this thing to dispel widespread troubling concerns. But to Facebook's great credit, I can tell you that the heat on Facebook to cave and pull the popular EDMD page down was nuclear. Yet Facebook stood firm and allowed the most hellish of First Amendment fire to reign supreme, i.e. extreme free speech and expression. They sure showed more fortitude than most top US cartoonists. EDMD creator Molly Norris was a Mega-FAIL!
But we now know that Mohammed does not trump free expression in America. Or at least at Facebook, which appears to have stood strong and fierce in the free speech no man's land of EDMD, and in the midst of withering crossfire from offended angry Muslims on one side and Michelle Malkin and many conservative bloggers on the other. Very tough spot to be in. But they seem to have done the right thing. Only a wily Turkish hacker on the Islamist Dark Side ruined it with his devastating cyber-IED. But EDMD #2 is up! Hoe on Down! Should be real First Amendment Fun, Fun, Fun! God, I love the smell of free speech napalm in the morning.
KOS Shows the Love to Republicans
Photo Courtesy of Pro Stunts
Pro Stunts
As to the most fly (nobody got hurt) cyber-strike by Mr. Ali Hassan Chop, I can't help but tip my Joker cap to him. He struck a major blow for his Holy Prophet, and is no doubt the toast of Ankara and Islamabad as we speak. He may get his 72 virgins tonight, and without even dying for them! Again, credit where credit is due. Ernst Rommel was a brilliant general, Nazi or no. But though they may attack us, they will never destroy us. Only we ourselves can do that. We've dealt with bigger Nazis than these Islamists. Like the Nazis, for example. Original gumshoe oped, pre-Hassan era, as follows. The question of Facebook self-censorship is moot.
On May 20, the 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' contest and defiant joint statement on free speech in the faces of radical Muslims like those who threatened South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and over an episode that never even displayed the Prophet Mohammed) became a cultural nuclear Armageddon between free speech advocates and opponents of the contest. Facebook and the Internet were its unhindered intercontinental delivery systems, the caricature competition it's nuclear-tipped free speech warhead.
In angry response, Pakistan blocked both Facebook and YouTube. Pakistani Muslims hit the streets in protest, shouting "Death to Facebook!" and burning US flags. Petitions to shut down the page were widely circulated. The heat was on full for Facebook all around. The opposition was mounting by foes of the contest, and supporters like blogger Michelle Malkin torched Facebook over the first EDMD page vanishing act. Facebook officials later blamed a glitch, then confirmed that the missing EDMD page was back up online on Facebook. Which it was.
Facebook logo
Facebook logo
Benstein
Finally, the controversial contest page vanished into the ether around 9:10pm on May 20, and has not returned. All of the old page links only redirect now, and no trace of it exists at Facebook. In short, the original 100,000 member-strong 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' Facebook Page is Gone With the Wind. Yet news of the event, or how and why it happened, is near nonexistent. What happened to it? Did Facebook take it down over heated and no doubt threatening pressure by angry opponents? Did the page's German creator Andy (a nom de guerre) pull it down himself, the day over, statement made and Mission Accomplished? Or did a Turkish cyberjihadi named Ali Hassan hack Facebook and strike a blow for the Prophet?
Very little hard information is available. Facebook has issued no official statements I can find, though I did read a couple unverified reports of widespread racist and hateful commentary as the reason for its takedown. Yet Facebook officials deny complicity in the event. The fact that the second 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' Facebook page is still up and running, with over 17,000 members and very lively points of view, seems to vindicate Facebook's denial. But without official word on what exactly happened regarding the Orwellian disappearance of the first and most popular EDMD page, the matter is left hanging in dangerous fashion for Facebook. A lot of users are now furious over the page's unexplained absence, and are now accusing Facebook of PC self-censorship like that of Comedy Central's vis-a-vis South Park.
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Photo by [nati]
Many of those angry users are now swearing to close their accounts and boycott Facebook in protest. And we in the Free West deserve an explanation from Facebook as to why that page is gone anyway. This is America, not Pakistan. Moderators can regulate the comments on any page. and can bounce offensive and inciting trolls who violate the rules is most egregious fashion. So why is that page gone now? Was it a glitch? A politically-driven and motivated takedown under intense Muslim pressure? Or a cyberspace IED attack by a talented Turkish Islamist extremist hacker? Facebook needs to cough up some answers, and soon. If Facebook management is innocent of self-censorship via the disappearance of the popular EDMD page, their silence does them no favors. It is in fact hurting Facebook badly PR-wise right now.
After the South Park censoring by Comedy Central, keen suspicions arise at sudden perceived whitewashes and self-censorship regarding Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. That kind of self-muzzling has been epidemic in the media since the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy and the brutal murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Ironically, the main EDMD page was launched as a test of wills and free speech to counter all that. But the main page is gone, and the contest's opponents are now claiming victory at their Facebook page. Are they wrong to celebrate? One of many pressing questions Facebook needs to answer. I and many others are only drawing blanks on the EDMD page's vanishing act, and blank is not a good place to be.
People tend to fill in the blanks themselves with what information is at hand, and the many incidents of self-censorship regarding Islam and the Prophet Mohammed are both numerous and well-documented. Countering that censorship was the EDMD contest's very raison d'etre. So, Dear Readers, who won the 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' competition? Its many participants and freedom of speech? A jihadi hacker? Or its opponents, through relentless pressure and petitions? Facebook needs to provide some answers, and soon. The pro-EDMD natives are restless. UPDATE: Is at least one answer forthcoming? The blog All Facebook reports in a new update that Facebook management reached out to them to let them know they were not responsible for the removal of the main EDMD page. If true, Facebook needs to make a statement to that effect, and before they lose a lot more perturbed account holders.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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