Fatima Bhutto speaks out against Pakistan’s digital liberty crackdown

By Gouri Sharma

Fatima Bhutto has criticised authorities in Pakistan for cutting off access to Facebook earlier this month.

Bhutto used her appearance at the Frontline Club on Wednesday to highlight wh she things th the government was wrong to ban access to social networking sites for containing what it has called "blasphemous" content.

If you couldn’t be at the club for this event, you can watch the whole thing here:
In a revealing and intimate talk the outspoken political commentator, and part of the Bhutto political dynasty, said:

The reason the Pakistani government has given for banning not only Facebook but anywhere from 500-1000 websites is because of un-Islamic content. Islam is a religion that is much greater than Facebook, it doesn’t really need to be defended against Facebook, in my opinion. Islam has existed and will continue to exist.

If Pakistan has a problem with the (Draw Muhammad Day) contest then tell everybody to close the account, have thousands and millions of people shut their accounts in protest.  There is never a reason, never any reason, I feel, to censor.

She added:  “It’s a bit rich for the government to say they are defending Islam when this is the same government that allows America to kill its own people, helps them in the war against Afghanistan, a war that is seen by many Pakistanis as a war against Islam.

“To me, I find it ridiculous for them to say that they are defending Muslims. “

Bhutto is in London to promote her latest book, Songs of Blood and Sword, in which she tells the story of how family has been ripped apart by murder and political turmoil.

The book has been heavily criticised in Pakistan for claiming that Benazir Bhutto was linked to the deaths of her two brothers, Fatima’s father Murtaza and her uncle Shahnawaz.

But she defiantly stood by what she wrote and the reasons why she wrote it:

What accompanies the violence in the region is silence. We are not only told that a certain amount of violence will be used against us but we are told we have to tolerate it.

Part of the reason why I wrote this book was about breaking that silence. I know living in Karachi there are thousands of people who think and say these things but the volume is turned down low on us.

She also discussed her fallout with Benazir, which she described as ‘political and not personal’ and claimed that having the Bhutto surname closed as many doors as it opened.