In what many have claimed to be another example of Facebook’s clampdown on Atheist and ex-Muslim pages, one of the largest Atheist group pages and one of the largest ex-Muslim group pages on Facebook were suspended by the social media giant.
The Facebook pages titled Ex-Muslims of North America (which has over 24 thousand followers) and Atheist Republic (which has 1.6 million followers) – groups known for their championing of secularism and providing support to “apostates” – were initially restricted and then suspended.
According to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, other atheist groups or pages shut down by the world’s most powerful social network in the course of a month include:
- Arab Atheist Network (23,500 members)
- Arab Atheist Forum and Network (9,200 members)
- Radical Atheists without Borders (23,500 members)
- Arab Atheist Syndicate (11,000 members)
- Arab Atheist Syndicate, backup (5,000 members)
- Humanitarian Non-Religious (32,000 members)
- Human Atheists (11,000 members)
- Arab Atheists Forum and Network (6,400 members)
- Mind and Discussion (6,500 members)
The Atheist Republic has been suspended and then reinstated numerous times over the last two years.
On Tuesday Atheist Republic took to Twitter to report that its Facebook page was shut down for “presumably for being anti-Muslim”.
No justification for either the restriction or suspension was provided by Facebook.
Facebook Shuts Down Atheist Republic’s Page, Presumably For Being “Anti-Muslim” (Which Isn’t True) https://t.co/CJrAkZyz5V
— Atheist Republic (@AtheistRepublic) May 9, 2017
Muhammad Syed, the president of the Ex-Muslims of North America, tweeted on Monday that the ex-Muslim group’s Facebook page had been restricted (then eventually suspended) for having been “in violation of Facebook’s community standards”.
Syed claims that hundreds of Facebook accounts are working to shut down atheist and ex-Muslim public pages. Facebook, he stresses, is doing little to combat this.
“Arab atheists, Bangladeshi secularists, and numerous other groups have been under attack for years, as religious conservatives in the Muslim world learn to abuse Facebook’s reporting system to their advantage. Early last year, multiple atheist and secularist groups were targeted with mass, coordinated infiltration and reporting – leading to the closure of many groups. These groups were eventually restored, but only after a lengthy and sustained effort by organisers to draw public attention to the issue,” Syed said.
Atheist Republic has claimed on their website that,
“The sad part for us, is that the mods on Facebook are simply letting it happen, if indeed they are paying any attention at all. What makes it all even more crazy is that Facebook actually does have a policy against harassment, however they also refuse to tell us who it is that keeps harassing us, thereby making it impossible for us to remedy the situation by trying to block these specific people.”
Ex-Muslims of North America have claimed that Facebook has been continuously blocking groups like it for a number of years. The group has been so concerned by what they deem unfair treatment that it has written an open letter to Facebook, calling on it to “to stop exercising intellectual persecution” against both atheist and ex-Muslim organisations and to safeguard such vulnerable groups from organised false flagging attacks by those who oppose them.
— Muhammad Syed (PBUM) (@MoTheAtheist) May 8, 2017
On Tuesday, after appealing the case, both groups were able to regain full access to their pages.
Syed has claimed that a coordinated attack by Muslim fundamentalists is behind the move by Facebook. Muslim fundamentalists, he claimed, were employing “simple and effective” flagging tools to report alleged violations of community standards. Facebook, for its part was failing to protect “groups vulnerable to malicious attacks” Syed said.
In an open letter to Facebook, Syed presses the company to renovate its reporting mechanisms in order to safeguard ex-Muslim groups.
“Ironically, the same social media which empowered religious minorities is susceptible to abuse by religious fundamentalists to enforce what are essentially the equivalent of online blasphemy laws. A simple English language search reveals hundreds of public groups and pages on Facebook explicitly dedicated to this purpose – giving their members easy-to-follow instructions on how to report public groups and infiltrate private ones,” Syed said.
As previously reported in Conatus News, officials in Pakistan recently claimed that Facebook were complicit in the country’s demands that “blasphemous” content insulting Islam be removed from the website.