Islam has a branding problem: Millatfacebook CEO
I was curious about what’s going on in the mind of the men who launched Millatfacebook — a Facebook-wannabe for Muslims. So, I contacted Lahore-based Omer Zaheer Meer, the CEO of Global IT Vision (Pvt) Ltd, the company that launched Millatfacebook. But even after more than a dozen telephone calls, emails and one story later, I can’t say with confidence whether I’ve understood the man or his motives.
All of 25, Meer comes across as a sincere, open and passionate person, aggrieved by what he calls an onslaught on Islam. In this first interview to the media, he speaks passionately about the motivation behind this website — to ward off attacks on Islam. I asked him why is Islam perceived as a violent religion? His answer: “Put simply, branding problem.”
Why did you launch Millatfacebook?
In protest of the blasphemous, anti-social and hypocritical events of ridiculing Prophet Muhammad which were supported by Facebook. Despite requests from hundreds of thousands of users, who reported the pages to Facebook, let alone taking any action they (Facebook) didn’t even bother to reply. They did reply to media though, saying that they fully supported these events and would do so in the future in the name of freedom of expression.
It’s very strange as the same Facebook administration speaking to the same media only last year stated that they cannot allow such abuse and hatred directed on the basis of religions and races. The only difference was that time it wasn’t about Islam but the Holocaust and racism (which we denounce too).
We should all express our freedom and rights with sensibility, care and consideration for our fellow human beings. My freedom shouldn’t mean that I go out on the street and start hitting my neighbour every day and say “that’s my freedom”. No, that would be an assault as for all internationally accepted laws and regulations.
Freedom of a person ends where the freedom of another person starts. So why is it that when it comes to the Holocaust or racism, this rule is respected but when it comes to the Muslim faith, it’s not? Is it the new Holocaust for Muslims in the making? The signs are the same.
Why call it “Facebook”?
Good question. Actually it is called Millatfacebook and that’s because just like a picture conveys more than a thousand words, it conveys, without speaking a single word what we are about which is: “the rival and alternate Facebook created by Muslims for all the decent people of all faiths to come together and interact in a socially responsible and considerate manner.”
And we are not against Facebook name but the hate-mongering, Islamophobic and anti-humane policies of the Facebook administration.
The colour scheme, the fonts resemble Facebook…why?
The theme is certainly different, the logos and colour scheme are unique. There are many different, additional and better features. However, there may be a similar feel due to some common basics all social networking platforms have. It’s just like asking Toyota or BMW why they have an accelerator or gear box when Mercedes have them. Well, these are the basic essentials but their designs, models and basically the products are different.
Aren’t you creating a social networking ghetto?
A ghetto? No, no, no…not at all. On the contrary we are offering an alternate platform where people of all faiths can come in harmony and interact besides also try to understand Muslims for what they really are and not what the popular biased propaganda portrays.
And this is based on the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad who created multi-religion communal harmony through “Mesaq-e-Medina” (Accord of Medina) which ensured that people of all faiths, be it Muslims, Jews, Pagans or any other, lived in peace and harmony. Millatfacebook is based on those same principles so creating any ghetto is certainly out of question.
Aren’t you capitalising on Islam-under-attack rhetoric?
No, absolutely not. In Islam, the most important thing is the intention. Our intention, as explained before, is to lodge our protest in a positive and practical way, make an example out of the indecent and hypocritical FB and provide an alternate to decent people of all faiths specially Muslims.
And even in material terms we are pouring in our resources on this venture without any expectations of returns whatsoever. If there maybe any future returns, so be it but that is neither the reason nor the prime objective.
Should all Muslims leave Facebook and join Millatfacebook?
Yes, of course. No doubt about it. And not only just Muslims, all decent people of all faiths should.
What is the revenue model of this website?
Basically the objective is to provide a platform decent people of all faiths, to come together and interact in a way that is socially responsible. It’s not created for profiteering but in future different income streams may start to help support and grow the venture but that is certainly not the primary objective.
Who is funding this venture?
Being a Muslim it’s our faith that Allah Almighty is funding it. And Global IT Vision (Pvt) Ltd is honoured to be the initial source for this.
What is the current valuation of Millatfacebook?
One can estimate the value of Millatfacebook based on its current ranking of 18,860th among over six billion websites globally in just two weeks as per Alexa. In Pakistan, it is now ranked at 186th, 359th in Indonesia, 490th in Malaysia, 524th in Bangladesh and 6,872nd in India amongst the millions of websites in each of these countries, again all this in just approximately 2 weeks.
What is your exit strategy? Do you have an IPO in mind?
We don’t have any such intention at the moment as it was not a business venture. So the question of an exit strategy doesn’t arise. The purpose is to create a platform as mentioned before.
Is Islam truly under attack?
Let’s take a deep breath and honestly analyse the situation around the world. Starting from being considered a natural adversary by the forces of the new world order to the need to capture vital resources and paths which are under Muslim rule, by forces of the order, it is all clear for those wanting to see.
Take a look across the globe, be it Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, it is the Muslims at the receiving end of the atrocities. Islamic faith is been prosecuted and a campaign of smear and propaganda has been carried out against it.
West had been accused of many massacres and Holocaust. Isn’t it another Holocaust in the making, this time directed at Muslims? The signs are the same.
What will you do if a Draw Mohammed page is created on Millatfacebook?
Unlike Facebook, we take strict action against attacks not just on Islam but defamation of any religion or other violations of decency.
As soon as such things are reported, not only are the offending pages removed, but the account of the offender is terminated and furthermore, the offender’s IP is permanently blocked to stop them from accessing the site again, easily.
Why is Islam perceived as a violent religion?
Put simply, branding problem. Unfortunately, Islam falls on the wrong side of the new world order. The power in the new world order and the control of global media resides with anti-Muslim lobbies, who consider Islam their natural adversary. On one hand they commit atrocities against Muslims in Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma. On the other hand the ruling elite in the Islamic countries are acting as poodles to these forces.
Some prime example of the bias, prejudice and propaganda against Muslims is evident from the facts that the IRA blasts are not labelled Christian terrorism. The incidents in Sri-Lanka are not called Buddhist terrorism. The Melagaon blasts, Samjhaota Express Massacre or the Gujrat massacre of Muslims are not termed Hindu terrorism. The Israeli atrocities and attacks on civilian peace activists in international waters are not referred to as Zionist terrorism.
But if any such incident involves a Muslim, they are branded as Muslim terrorists. Why?
Similarly, Indian bombs were not labelled “Hindu bombs” nor were Israeli atomic bombs were called “Zionist bombs” and American nuclear bombs were certainly never referred to as “Christian bombs”. Even the Soviet or Chinese bombs were not called “Communist bombs”.
But Pakistan’s atomic bombs are labelled “Islamic bombs” by these same forces pursuing the Zionist agenda which deem Islam as its natural adversary, in the name of the new world order.
As for the Islamic concept of Jihad which is normally wrongly associated with violence, we need to bring forward the true voice of Islam. It is essentially a concept of self-defence not aggression, which is justified by all international laws and standards. Jihad says that if you, your family or community is attacked, then defend yourselves but even in this defence do not harm any innocent, women, child or elderly and it goes to the extent to prohibit even any unnecessary harm to the nature or infrastructures.
Furthermore if someone tries to abuse the name of a religion you cannot blame that religion for it. Just like because of the IRA blasts or Gujarat massacre of Muslims I cannot say that Christianity or Hinduism are violent religions, the same is also true for Islam.
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