The outspoken conservative group, Jihad Watch (JW), claims it has dedicated itself to “bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world” and to correcting misconceptions about “the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts.” They hope to enlighten “people of good will” to the nature of the conflict between the ideology of jihad and other belief systems.
On Wednesday the group reported that the account of Brother Rachid, a former Muslim who hosts a live TV show is being censored by social media giants.
On his website, Rachid says he set the website up after years of media work as a free platform, open to intellectuals who share concerns about certain topics. He says it’s for those who share common goals–with many Muslims, Christians, atheists, and non-believers–regarding issues of individual freedoms, human rights, and religious criticism. The site is meant to encourage a “culture of dialogue and acceptance of the other, despite differences,” and to be a place for religious-freedom writers and intellectuals to defend human values.
On September 18, he penned, “My dilemma with Facebook and YouTube in Arabic” on his site. He now says that he is being censored on social media and that the way Arabic content is translated leaves it open to unfair restrictions. His show, which he says is popular among Muslims, raises “many bold questions about the Islamic faith,” and exposes “the danger of some Islamic doctrine.”
“I also present testimonies of ex-Muslims who have left Islam and allow them to share their experiences in order to empower others and encourage them to do the same,” Rachid writes.
The full translated text of this piece is available on JW. Here are some highlights from his thoughts:
- I’ve come to rely on social media platforms to connect with my audience
- To engage further with audiences and the wider, global, Muslim community, these questions and testimonies are also posted….on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube
- Muslim governments impose restrictions and heavy censorship [on] my websites … As a result, social media platforms are an increasingly crucial way for me to reach out to the Muslim world and surpass the censorship
- The Arabic content for giant social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube is overseen predominantly by Muslims (since the majority of those who speak Arabic are Muslims)
- These companies… give their Arabic-speaking staff the authority to delete and block any material that does not fit their guidelines.
- This authority is abused when any channel or page that criticizes Islam or presents opposing views to Islam
- My Facebook page (which has over 1.5 million likes) was once deleted
- The Facebook page of Alhayat – the channel that broadcasts my show – was also deleted without any explanation
- My YouTube channel (which has also garnered millions of views) was once removed for “breaking guidelines”
- My Facebook posts are removed on many occasions and I am frequently blocked from posting because a post allegedly “does not follow Facebook guidelines!”
- I think Facebook and Twitter need to revise how Arabic content is handled
- Muslims criticize Christianity right and left and their Facebook pages and YouTube channels face no problems, whatsoever
- Christians, Atheists, and ex-Muslims … face huge challenges in criticizing Islam on social media in Arabic
- Our pages are unfairly deleted, our posts are wrongfully removed, and our accounts are blocked and removed
“We had thought that social media was about freedom of speech, but unfortunately it appears that Muslim censorship is prevalent even on social media. We are unable to express ourselves even on platforms like Facebook and YouTube,” Rachid writes, saying he never promotes hatred or violence against Muslims, and that he emphasizes critiquing Islam as a doctrine, but “loving Muslims as all other human beings.”
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