A mass protest against Facebook by hardline Islamic groups is set to take place tomorrow, with their newly formed umbrella organization featuring the rather dramatic name “Aliansi Tolak Kezholiman Facebook” (Alliance Against Facebook’s Wickedness) specially for the occasion.
The protest, following the trend of previous demonstrations carried out by Islamists, is being dubbed “112” to denote tomorrow’s date. Their displeasure and denouncement of Facebook is due to the social media giant banning multiple pages and groups related to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) for promoting violence and discrimination, though they believe the censorship has extended to all things Islamic.
“It started when Muslims’ accounts, whether they were for preaching, raising social issues or humanitarian concerns, were all blocked without explanation. They tried making the accounts again but they got blocked again,” said Ali Al’Athos, the coordinator for Alliance Against Facebook’s Wickedness, as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday.
“We don’t get it, when it comes to Muslims posting (Quranic) verses they get blocked. All sorts of mass organization pages, fanpages, and even Ustad Arifin Ilham (a celebrity preacher) were blocked. Other preachers’ accounts were also blocked after they were created only for a few minutes.”
Facebook Indonesia has not responded to the threat of the protest, nor did they respond when the same Islamists called for a 24-hour blanket boycott of social media on Christmas day (a move that seemingly hurt nobody but the Islamists themselves).
The Islamists have been promoting alternative social media and online platforms that better suit their agendas, including an Indonesian search engine called Geevv to replace Google. Ironically, netizens have pointed out that Google actually does far more to censor content that is considered negative by or discriminatory towards Islam (including pornography) than Geevv.
(The above compares search suggestions based on keywords related to Islam between Google and Geevv. On Google, suggestions for “jilbab” mostly had to do with fashion trends, whereas Geevv gave suggestions catering to headscarf fetishists. Geevv also brought up numerous results relating to fugitive FPI leader Rizieq Shihab’s pornography case in its suggestions, whereas Google did not.)
The Jakarta Metro Police estimates that there will be around 1,000 people protesting outside the Facebook Indonesia office on Jalan Gatot Soebroto tomorrow. The protest is expected to start in the afternoon after Friday prayers.