Pakistan’s prime minister has appealed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to ban Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.
In a letter, which the Pakistani government posted on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” was encouraging extremism and violence across the world, especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.
“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.
Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.
“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.
In response to Khan’s appeal, a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters the company was against all forms of hate and that it did not allow attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.
“We’ll remove this hate speech as soon as we become aware of it,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, adding that the company had “more work to do”.
Khan, in his letter, referred to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.
Previously the Pakistani Prime Minister had said on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron has “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Khan’s comments come days after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher beheaded by an Islamist radical who wanted to avenge the use of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression.
“Sadly, President Macron has chosen to deliberately provoke Muslims, incl his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam & our Prophet PBUH,” Khan said on Twitter.
Muslims see any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous. Macron said the teacher was a hero and that Islamists were a threat to the country.
Khan said Macron could have shown a “healing touch” to deny space to extremists but had instead “chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists”.
France has in recent years witnessed a series of violent attacks by Islamist militants, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings and bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre and sites around Paris that killed 130 people.
“By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world,” Khan added.
Khan’s comments follow a similar broadside fired by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan against Macron, following which France recalled its ambassador from Ankara.
The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, first published in 2005 by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, have stirred outrage and violent protests in Pakistan.
There were more protests last month when the cartoons were re-published by the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.