May 22, 2010

Facebooks Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

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Interview with Administrator

An administrator of the Facebook group "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" spoke with RFE/RL about the online campaign, in which users were asked to submit cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Speaking from Germany, 28-year-old Andy Freiheit, a German citizen using a pseudonym for safety reasons, discusses freedom of the press, religious sensitivity, and the global attention given to the Facebook campaign. The interview was conducted by RFE/RL Central Newsroom correspondent Kristin Deasy and RFE/RL Radio Mashaal correspondent Maliha Amirzada.

RFE/RL: When did you become in charge of the group? How long ago was that?

Freiheit: I [was put] in charge of the group probably the 10th or 11th of May.

RFE/RL: Has Facebook contacted you?

Freiheit: Oh yeah, but not in a negative way. They've just tried to verify that we are who we said we are. So we had to make a blog -- because the initial information, basically, was [attributed] to Molly Norris [a Seattle cartoonist who drew a poster of a fictional group, Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor, declaring May 20 "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day"], and she [later] left the group [and withdrew from the campaign], so we had to just change that. But anything else than that, no. I know the group's been reported like 100,000 times, but Facebook did not block the entire thing, like Google would have done, or whoever else cares more about money than civil rights.... I think it was because...our earlier moderators' accounts got hacked and they had to verify, because suddenly one of the guys, instead of logging in from Madrid, was logging in from Karachi, Pakistan. And you don't move 5,000 miles in an hour.

RFE/RL: Have you received any direct threats?

Freiheit: No, not me personally. I haven't received any threats to my person. They don't know my name. But we've received general threats to the admins and moderators of the group. But we take measures.... We have fake accounts.... We have proxies on our Internet and stuff[...]

RFE/RL: Here's a tough question for you: How would you feel if there were some deaths related to this activity?

Freiheit: We've actually discussed it, and we discussed if that was a risk we were willing to take. And, to be honest...if those guys kill anyone, then that's not something we've done. That's something we just have to put forward and show people. They wanted to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish professor, just a few days ago! They've killed [Dutch film director Theo] van Gogh. They've tried to kill [Danish cartoonist] Kurt Westergaard. This happens; it has to be shown to get reactions. I actually think they will kill someone.... Someone will...make [someone] a scapegoat or whatever.

That's just the problem. If we say no, we have to stop the group, because we've gotten death threats and people are going to be killed. What message does that send? That sends, "Oh, yeah, we can get our way if we come with death threats, if we just kill someone, then they will stop." It's a dilemma; I can be honest about that. It's not something that's easily decided. But we've come to the conclusion that if someone is killed, then we're not to blame.[More...]

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Oh, and Ali Hassan is still a pussie

h/t Timothy

By Stable Hand at 03:18 PM | Comments |