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HindustanTimes Sat,29 Nov 2014

Halal clone: Facebook’s new rival

Gautam Chikermane, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 08, 2010
First Published: 00:57 IST(8/6/2010) | Last Updated: 01:44 IST(8/6/2010)

“A ghetto? No… no… no.” That’s 25-year-old Omer Zaheer Meer, CEO of Millatfacebook, an Islamic social networking website launched nine days after Pakistan banned Facebook for not removing a page that invited people to draw Prophet Mohammed, an act considered blasphemous by Muslims.

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“We requested Facebook to remove the offending pages but they did not even bother to reply,” Meer said from his Lahore office.

A cruder, slower, restrictive copy, Millatfacebook has added 2,54,000 members in its 11-day life. Even the look-feel of the website resembles the original that it seeks to condemn.

If Millatfacebook is the spontaneous rebellion of Islam against the “offensive” Facebook, why have the word ‘facebook’ in it? “Calling it any other thing would not have worked,” Meer said. “This name, without speaking a word, says what we’re all about.”

And what’s that? “People from all faiths are welcome to come and interact with one another and understand Muslims,” Meer said. “(It is) to provide a platform to decent people of different faiths to come in harmony.”

Who’s decent? “Nobody has to define ‘decent’. There are socially-acceptable norms where personal freedom ends when it hurts another. It’s there in real life and so it is in cyberspace.”

The Facebook ban has been withdrawn till June 15. What’s left is yet another social networking website that now will stand for ‘religious capitalism’.


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