After praying Dhuhr today, I logged into my Facebook and a message appeared stating: “You have been blocked from posting and sharing for 24 hours because you posted material that violated Facebook’s terms and conditions,” writes Dilly Hussain.
Facebook were kind enough to tell me exactly what the material was – it was a video and a photo of the “biggest Islamic flag” with the shahadah (declaration of faith) printed on it in Turkey (which I didn’t post), some may know it as the “flag of Tawhid”, “flag of Islam”, “flag of Jihad” or in the West the “Al Qaeda flag”.
Before I delve into the connotations and problems Facebook and many in the West have with this particular flag, I’d like to explain when all this funny business started.
This wasn’t the first time I have had strange messages, warnings and emails from Facebook. It all began after the Woolwich murder on May 22, two days after the launch of 5Pillarz.com, an independent Muslim news, analysis and opinion site, which I am the deputy editor of.
My email address and phone number were leaked along with over two million other Facebook users and only God knows who the recipients actually were.
A week later, I was warned by Facebook not to post “hateful material” which would again “violate their terms and conditions” and that some of my posts has been “taken down.” So I double-checked all my posts, statuses, photos, videos, articles and everything seemed to be in its place. Next day, I was blocked from sending friend requests, accepting friend requests and sending or replying to messages from people who weren’t my friends for seven days.
“We the Revolutionaries of the Ummah” page
A very popular and widely followed Facebook group called “We the Revolutionaries of the Ummah” (WROU) which has 56,000 followers and “likes” from all over the world made me a content creator on their page because they appreciated some of the editorial content 5Pillarz was producing.
This group promotes anti-imperialist literature, supports the re-establishment of a caliphate in the Muslim world, criticises American and western foreign policy in the Muslim world (namely the War on Terror) and believes that democracy is forbidden in Islam. These are all legitimate opinions within Islam and held by many in the western and Muslim world
WROU’s page was “unpublished” and in effect banned by Facebook yesterday, the reason being the circulation of the “black flag” video. Yep, the same black flag video that I was blocked for. They weren’t banned for advocating the caliphate, or speaking out against western foreign policy, or denouncing democracy, it was this “black flag” which was offensive and violated Facebook’s terms and conditions.
The group has over 70 content creators and managers, from Europe, Australia, America, the Arab world and Asia. When one person posts something, it seems that everyone gets the flack for it, so all 70 admins have been blocked from posting for 24 hours as well. But let’s be clear about this, all the concepts that are promoted by WROU are not incitement to hatred, attacking any particular group along racial, ethnic or religious lines or incitement to terrorism or violence.
The “black flag” of Islam
Now to my final point, what is the problem with this flag? The flag which states the declaration of faith that over 1.6 billion people belong to? A flag which has been referred to by Fox News and western media as the “Al Qaeda flag.”
The flag states – “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. Now if Facebook, western politicians and the media have an issue with this declaration on a flag that is recognised by millions who do not accept the notion of a member state, or nationalism or artificial boundaries created by the French and British after World War One, it clearly shows that they have a direct issue with the fundamentals of Islam itself.
This flag is older than any national flag that exists today, many that aren’t even a hundred years old and represents nothing but western colonialism, the Sykes-Picot agreement and a false illusion of “independence”.
I don’t know why Facebook has a problem with this particular flag and not any of the political or religious material the WROU page or myself posted (and believe me, I have posted far more controversial and critical material than just a flag).
It seems very clear with the NSA and GCHQ scandals revealing how the secret services are gathering private data from online giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others, Muslim activists, journalists and dawah carriers should be wary of all their online activities.
You can follow Dilly Hussain on Twitter @DillyHussain88