Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging the platform to ban islamophobic content.
Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” was encouraging “hate, extremism, and violence… especially through the use of social media” and warned that such content could radicalise Muslims.
The letter comes one day after the prime minister accused French President Emmanuel Macron of “attacking and hurting the feelings of millions of Muslims in Europe and around the world” for encouraging the publication of the cartoons.
President Macron had paid tribute to a French history teacher who was murdered after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class, and said France would “not give up our cartoons”.
But the comments have been strongly condemned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has called for a boycott of French products over Macron’s perceived attitude toward Islam and Muslims.
On Monday, the Pakistani authorities also reportedly summoned the French ambassador in Islamabad, Marc Baréty, to convey their concerns.
Khan went on to argue that hatred should be banned altogether on social networks.
“Given the rampant abuse and denigration of Muslims on social platforms, I am calling for a ban on Islamophobia and hatred of Islam on Facebook similar to that which exists on the Holocaust,” Khan told Zuckerberg in a letter, announced the Pakistani government late on Sunday.
“One cannot send the message that some hate messages against some are unacceptable, while others are acceptable”.
Khan also pointed to Facebook’s recent policy which has banned content that distorts or denies the Holocaust and called for a similar rule to be introduced for anti-Islam posts.
The social media platform defines hate speech as “a direct attack on people” based on protected characteristics including race, ethnicity, national origin and religious affiliation, through “violent or dehumanising speech” or “harmful stereotypes”.