Are social network discussions ever off limits?

An Islamic court in Nigeria has banned a human rights group from using Facebook and Twitter, to discuss the country’s first amputation for theft.
“We condemn the ruling and reject it. We think it is a violation of our freedom of expression,”  says Shehu Sani the Civil Rights Congress president.  

Shehu Sani  says  “We opened the blog on Facebook and Twitter chats 10 days ago to serve as a platform for which Nigerians could air their opinions on Sharia law as a whole and the justification or otherwise of the amputation of the hand of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe. “.

The Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, brought the case to the court say that debating the use of amputation as means of punishment for petty crimes mock the Sharia system.

This is the first time a court in Nigeria has tried to interfere in the freedom of inter-action and activities of people online. It is not clear how the restraining order would be enforced.
So is it possible to stop people having this kind of discussions online?

28 Responses to “Are social network discussions ever off limits?”

  1. 1 Cabe UK
    March 25, 2010 at 13:00

    Normally I would congratulate ANY court anywhere for banning Twitter and Facebook – because the level of ‘freedom of speech’ on it is usually of a “Doh” mentality – and the majority of ‘talk’ is either disfunctionally *twee* and self-serving and audience seeking or pure baby-talk drivel…

    – But, as these people want to discuss serious stuff that affects their world, then in this instance the ban is disgraceful! Anyone controling another’s freedom is usually weak, insecure and fearful that if they allow people freedom those free people will then take that contol away from them !…

    • March 26, 2010 at 04:47

      With World getting more and more complicated everyday with our thought shrinking; there need to be a platform for us, to engage ourselves rightfully. Further, as the activities of men or women are fast taking over by Machines, one ought to be engaged somewhere to avoid taking our Brains by Devil amasses to do all nuisances as idle Brain is Devil’s workshop and hence Social Net Working is no wrong in keeping us busy apart from our taking apart in Social Reforms everywhere nonetheless there shall always be misuse which on needs to ignore.

      (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  2. 3 Dinesh Patel
    March 25, 2010 at 13:20

    Amazing isn’t it.

    We have just come to accept that it is perfectly acceptable for people to be butchered to death in the name of Islam, so just moan about not be able to discuss openly. What has the world come to?! Don’t won’t to offend?

  3. March 25, 2010 at 13:46

    Hallo, world have your say!

    Denying somebody freedom to exercise his rights is so unjustified….. i believe we are now in the century where there is freedom to express oneself fully, it is through this freedom of speech and rights that has made some issues easy.

    The freedom to use tweeter or facebook as is the world linking sites they bring people together and fighting this is killing technology because iam sure their is one person somewhere who is having some sleepless nights trying to come up with another site that will link people together more easily and cheaply……..

    if that is the case therefore they will go ahead to amputate everyone in Nigeria because they are using facebook or tweeter and are following sharia laws….. iam sure the muslim family does not encourage such kinds of atrocities.

    i play down shuting of facebook and tweeter.

  4. 5 Damola
    March 25, 2010 at 13:49

    The Islamic court and the muslim brotherhood have only succeeded in further tarnishing the already dented image of the sharia legal system in Nigeria. I am not a muslim but I believe that there are followers of the Islamic faith who understand these things as spelt out in the Quran. Let’s have them on these forum to discuss the pros, cons and how Sharia can be applied in a society like ours with out bias. No topic is too sacreed for discussion. Some people in Nigeria are just striving too hard to protect a source of scoring political points.

  5. 6 steve
    March 25, 2010 at 13:50

    Hopefully that group will just find a more serious medium to get its message across than Facebook and twitter. Perhaps, even though I’m sure it would be included in such a ban, but a more serious “social networking” site, one perhaps for more serious than wanting to know what people are eating for dinner. Something like human rights seems a bit too important to be mixed in with people boasting about where they are, or what book they are reading. How about a Facebook for important things such as issues, instead of social networking (which winds up being posting what you are eating for dinner).

  6. 7 Subhash C Mehta
    March 25, 2010 at 14:21

    Are these religious or private laws not covered under any international law? We do have such international bodies for delivering justice against the inhuman crimes related with war and labor; then, why don’t/can’t we protect the people from these kind of inhuman punishments at the hands of the cannibalistic local/religious forms of so-called laws?

  7. 8 T
    March 25, 2010 at 14:22

    No. Because we all know that for many sites, hti rates, number of comments, etc. is their lifeblood. If one is shut down, there’s always somewhere else to go.

  8. 9 Julie P
    March 25, 2010 at 14:32

    This isn’t about fee speech on a social network site, this about free speech in general. Nigerians are being denied their right to free speech to discuss an act taken their government that uses Sharia Law, which is based on religion. This is the problem when government and religion are used to govern a nation. Religion, regardless of which one, have a propensity to not tolerate scrutiny. Religion really has no place in modern society.

  9. 10 Kaliyug
    March 25, 2010 at 14:41

    If they do not want their barbaric acts shown or discussed on web sites, then they should find more humane ways of punishing those they accuse of committing the crimes. How does it help any part of society to amputate a person who is already a thief? From thief to beggar will be the change of status, sometimes this person can be better monitored by society to do community work for the betterment of the local streets, schools or environment.

    March 25, 2010 at 15:05

    Nobody can agree with the perverted and barbaric judgement of he Islamic court in Nigeria. But we cannot expect anything better from the Islamic Societies which still believe that true justice can be done only by following the priinciple of ” AN EYE FOR AN EYE”. Haviing said this ,I also condemn the attitude of the Human Rights Commsiion which is more interesed in safeguarding the rights of criminals, and anti-social elements of the society. Many such commsions have forgetten that law-abiding pesons have also some fundamental rights which need to be protected. Too much leniency towards the criiminal.is as undesirabtle as that of awarding disproportinate punishment.. A reasonable balance has to be struck between these two extremes.

  11. 13 achemu aku
    March 25, 2010 at 15:20

    well it is really sad that in the twenty first centuary we are still talking about amputations; freedom of speech is the right of every citizen of the earth i don”t think it should still be an issue for debate

    March 25, 2010 at 15:21

    Social networking sites should never be offlimits for people above the legal age of consent as determined by any society. Social network sites provide a forum where people can confidently air out their opinions without necessarily having to be technincal experts in the feild. A lay man in civil engineering can substancially comment on the quality of road works in his area and his opinion holds on a Facebook page yet he would never even be granted a hearing.
    However, this forum is sometimes abused, just like any other good invention for society’s benefit can be corrupted by a few bad apples who do not adhere to the generally agreed rules of the game.

  13. March 25, 2010 at 15:35

    We could never do this in the USA ot the UK. If we did. These pwople would be on a disability pension for the rest of their lives. We have enough financial problems.

  14. 16 Jim Currie
    March 25, 2010 at 15:38

    We have to be careful we don’t offend… I presume ‘walking on eggs’ is acceptable? Perhaps we should just ignore it. I know it won’t go away but if such actions continue to offend the majority of people..the same people will put an end to the system which perpetuates these actions. That’s why we don’t still hit each other over the heads with clubs any more.
    What offends me is the double standards used by the people who practice this type of law. It’s OK to blow people to bits with modern sophistcate weapons but anything else which is modern is taboo.
    What has happened to all those wonderfull Islamic thinkers and scientist who were streets ahead of their western equivalents?

  15. 17 Ibrahim in UK
    March 25, 2010 at 15:53

    – Does any organisation and individual have the right to discuss the laws of another country? (e.g. cutting off hands in Nigeria, or electrocution in the US, or hanging in Japan)

    Yes. Moreso when they are discussing the laws of their own country. Free and informed debate benefits everyone.

    – Is facebook and twitter a suitable forum for that discussion?

    Probably not. These social networks have evolved a reputation of being useful for petty social exchanges and entertainment, not for serious or representative discussions. I agree with Steve, there should be a more serious network forum dedicated to these issues.

  16. March 25, 2010 at 16:08

    All religions restrict free speech that contravenes their beliefs. That should be reason enough to be non-religious.

  17. 19 nora
    March 25, 2010 at 16:58

    Cultural repression and violence always go hand and hand. After the coup in Chile, the guitar was outlawed for a time. If the judges are evil enough to chop off body parts, it goes without saying that free speech is out the window. Patriarchy enforced by sadism is at the heart of Sharia. God has nothing to do with .

  18. 20 Mike
    March 25, 2010 at 18:37

    Ask yourself who would do such a thing as maim a person for stealing? Also, who would ban its discussion? Do you wish to have these people influencing your own country’s laws and attitudes? We all need to strengthen our institutions of freedom and defend them vigorously so that our rights are not threatened this way.

    Best regards.

  19. 21 mike
    March 25, 2010 at 18:57

    Amputation is a very harsh punishment, i feel for the poor guy but at the same time, what about the innocent hard working people who sweet blood? What about those people he stole from?? It’s a very harsh punishment but at the same time its a message..

  20. 22 Ali H. Kazmi
    March 25, 2010 at 19:08

    Free speech is a beautiful slogan. However you can not really have free speech in a country where the apparatus of the speech is owned and controlled by foreign powers, especially former colonial masters.

    People always prefer local thugs over global thugs. Global thugs always have their agenda. Look at how many Indians are horrified at one amputation, yet they are not bothered by a serving chief minister who burned thousands of people alive and boasted about it.

    This forum is dripping with alligator tears of pseudo liberals whose taxes are financing holocausts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza and they are horrified at one amputation.

  21. 23 dadta gileh
    March 25, 2010 at 19:39

    The judge that is taking public funds to credence to such issue should be tried for misuse of public funds.
    I just don’t know why a greater part of the moslem population the world over believe that they are the only ones that have rights and others don’t. They areTouchy about nearly everything. polio vaccines, cartoons, news paper ,articles, soon they’ll ask the rest of the world to stop existing, if they are not already asking that. May God save us.

  22. 24 Muhammad Zaman
    March 25, 2010 at 19:55

    “The Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, brought the case to the court say that debating the use of amputation as means of punishment for petty crimes mock the Sharia system.”

    Blindly following Sharia Law ought to be mocked. Blindly marching into the past, blindly following medieval punishments, while ignoring progression and modernity ought to be mocked. The Association of Muslim Brotherhood ought to be mocked for not having the courage to debate other interpretations of Islam.

    Whether that mocking is done by Facebook or by other means is irrelevant. It ought to be done anyway.

  23. 26 Henry
    March 25, 2010 at 21:23

    Are we moving backward or forward….? Democracy is all about free expression from the people who power belongs to. The banning of the use of social networks (Facebook and Twitter) to discuss Nigeria’s first amputation for theft by an Islamic court can be taken as injustice meted out to the people by an arm that claims to give justice. What is the rational for this banning? If there is justice, why is the court being scared of people discussing and knowing about the amputation? A court is supposed not to be biased or partial. It should be an umpire of the highest precision. If the integrity and respect of a court is found wanting, then its decisions and rulings becomes questionable by the people!

    I do not think in my opinion, that it is possible to stop people from discussing the matter online. Nigeria does not have good internet laws and does not have the ‘IT orderliness’ and technology to track discussants online. Therefore the enforcement of this ‘jungle justice’ is almost impossible. Sharia is not a balanced justice system in a country with soaring records of corruption like Nigeria. Only the poor suffers this curel system!

  24. March 26, 2010 at 00:52

    Amputation of hand as a form of punishment to crime in this modern world is very babarik,unlawful, inhumanity to man babarik and satanic. They should look for a better way of punishment to crime.

  25. March 26, 2010 at 05:13

    Clearly the amputation of limbs in Nigeria as a deterrent of theft leaves much to be desired. It seems to me that such episodes indicate and support the argument that nations where the separation of church and state are not clearly demarcated, the justice system morphs into a 9th century nightmare.

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