WordPress and the Pakistani government censor my site again, removing a “blasphemous” quote—from the Qur’an!

This is the third time I’ve gotten an email from WordPress telling me that, at the behest of the censorious and easily offended Pakistani government, they’ve blocked some of the content of my site from that country. The curious thing is that what they blocked—on the grounds of blasphemy—is a quote from the Qur’an! And, as far as I can determine, the quote is pretty accurate.

I’ll put below the email from WordPress, which includes the Pakistani complaint, and I’ve also placed the “blasphemous” item in this post so you can see what caused all the kerfuffle:

From WordPress:

Hello,

A Pakistan authority has demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site:

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/57f662e41a0000de085b7759.png?w=500&h=388

Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region. As a result, we have disabled this content only for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked. [JAC: I’d like to see what message was posted for the Pakistanis]

Visitors from outside of Pakistan are not affected.

You and your readers may be interested in these suggestions for bypassing Internet restrictions.

For your reference, we have included a copy of the complaint. No reply is necessary, but please let us know if you have any questions.

Dear WordPress Team,

I am writing on behalf of Web Analysis Team of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) which has been designated for taking appropriate measures for regulating Internet Content in line with the prevailing laws of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In lieu of above it is highlighted that few of the web pages hosted on your platform are extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The same has also been declared blasphemous under Pakistan Penal Code section 295, 295A, 295B, 295C and is in clear violation of Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 and Section 19 of Constitution of Pakistan.

Keeping above in view, It is requested to please support in removing following URL’s from your platform at earliest please.

The below mentioned websites can be found on following URL’s:-

[…] 52.

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/57f662e41a0000de085b7759.png?w=500&h=388 […]

You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world by discontinuation of hosting of these websites for viewership in Pakistan with immediate effect. We will be happy to entertain any query if deemed necessary and looking forward for your favorable response at your earliest.

Regards
Web Analysis Team
+92 51 9214396

Now I’ve kvetched before about how WordPress acts as the blasphemy police for Pakistan, and I’m sure they do this because they get money from Pakistani clicks. This is contrary to WordPress’s policy on speech, but at least they blocked just the offending item, and only in Pakistan. I suspect I’d better keep my tuchas out of Pakistan since I’ve committed an electronic crime!

In truth, I don’t remember putting that image up. I may have, though it doesn’t seem like something I’d do, and perhaps it was contributed by a reader. At any rate, someone might try to find it and let me know.

Is it blasphemous? Well, let’s look up what the Qur’an says in that verse. You can find various translations of 2:191 here, and I’ll give a few:

Sahih International: And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- îaram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

Pickthall: And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

Yusuf Ali: And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

Shakir: And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

Muhammad Sarwar: Slay them wherever you may catch them and expel them from the place from which they expelled you. The sin of disbelief in God is greater than committing murder. Do not fight them in the vicinity of the Sacred Mosque in Mecca unless they start to fight. Then slay them for it is the recompense that the disbelievers deserve.

Mohsin Khan: And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

Arberry: And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers —

So the quote is pretty accurate given that these versions say “Slay them wherever you find them”, and “them” clearly revers to disbelievers or unbelievers. What we have, then, is an Islamic government declaring that the words of the Qur’an are blasphemous!

That’s unbelievable but true. What this means is that the Pakistani authorities want to control what the people see about their own sacred text, because it disrupts “world peace and harmony.” Too bad that it does!

47 Comments

  1. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    What we have, then, is an Islamic government declaring that the words of the Qur’an are blasphemous!

    That’s unbelievable but true. What this means is that the Pakistani authorities want to control what the people see about their own sacred text

    And a corroborating quote from The Visitor by Sheri S. Tepper (the “Happening” referred to is a strike of the Earth by an asteroid that is responsible for the state of the world in the book): “Not many years before the Happening, one of your country’s largest religious bodies officially declared that their book was holier than their God, thus simultaneously and corporately breaking several commandments of their own religion, particularly the first one. Of course they liked the book better! It was full of magic and contradictions that they could quote to reinforce their bigoted and hateful opinions.”

  2. Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it was in one of the replies, rather than you blogging about it?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      We could at any point get this site censored. So much blasphemy, so little comment space.

      • Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Yeah and Jerry was only #52 in the league table. Needs to move up a bit.

        I wonder how often these lists of offending material get sent out?

        • Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          I wonder whether this blog itself will end up on a new list?

  3. Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    If it is from 2016, the Pakistani “Web Analysis Team” (lol) must have quite a back log. You are keeping them in jobs.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I hope WordPress, if they’re going to agree to censor, would show an honest message that explained that they were censoring “blasphemous” content as requested by authority.

  5. Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    The Twitter handle for Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, is @automattic. The CEO is Matt Mullenweg, @photomatt on Twitter. I’ve made my opinion known and I hope others will join me.

  6. Bruce Lilly
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The image is in the main body of the blog (not in reader comments) at https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/puffho-tries-to-whitewash-islam-again-yawn/

    • Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Aha! It was PCC then. He must be stoned.

      • Bruce Lilly
        Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        “Stoned”, as in one interpretation of “4 20”?

    • Bruce Lilly
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      The image is also identified by the (shorter) URL https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=185825

      In keeping with the comment that appears there, the complaint is probably a “taken out of context” issue, as the “meme” omits the “from where they turned you out” (or similar) part…

    • Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      It would appear the censors did not understand the intent of the post. The blogpost was actually arguing against its use.

      Strange world.

  7. Posted April 20, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I think I read somewhere that the fuller context of the offending quote from the Koran is that after unbelievers have oppressed the Faithful, then they should be hunted down and killed (as a sad duty of self-preservation).

    Not that I care enough to look it up myself. I prefer to get my 7th-century advice from… come to think of it, I don’t take advice from 7th-century sources.

    • Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      The full context is that the unbelievers oppress the Faithful by their existence.

      • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        No it isn’t actually. It’s talking about unbelievers that pack a fight with Muslims.

        • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          pick*

        • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          If you listen to that sort of Muslims, they will say the same about Prof. Coyne.
          The fact is, Muslim historians themselves talk about their warlord prophet killing, raping and enslaving.

          • Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            I was just talking about the context of the particular quote in the Koran as was the person to whom you responded.

            • Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

              So am I.
              That place of the Koran specifies that the Believers should attack the unbelievers “once the holy month (Ramadan) is over”.
              If the Believers were under any sort of real attack, they would never be recommended to wait before defending themselves.
              Every oppressive and genocidal ideology portrays its victims, no matter how hapless, as attackers.

  8. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Still, it is kinda great that the pPakistan ‘religious police’ deems Surah 2:191 blasphemous.
    Or was it the accompanying picture, maybe they considered it depicted the prophet?
    Note, since the warrior is veiled the question is moot. 🙂

    • Roger
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it was one of the horses that “triggered” them. Haha, get it, trigger, horse, haha.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        No, I’m slow, I don’t get it.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          Roy Rogers (not necessarily this “Roger”, but he’s probably been reminded of this all his life) was a cowboy in the era of cheap black & white cowboy movies, riding a horse called “Trigger”, who was the intellect of the pair.
          It’s an American thing.

  9. Roger
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Maybe they thought one of the riders or one of the horses were a depiction of Muhammad. That would be poo-pooed in many of the sub-cults of the Islam cult.

  10. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    this must mean if anyone wants a WordPress page blocked from the viewpoint of Pakistan, they need only write the quote in the comment section of whatever page they desire.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    alternatively, one could write the quote with the slight of hand trick as shown here :

    Mary
    Had a
    a little lamb

    or

    I
    Love Paris in
    in the springtime

    … for example, add an extra “the”, or add a letter, for example “whereever” and the webpage would not be blocked. In theory.

  12. FB
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    So the Pakistani authorities are saying that Allah’s words are blasphemous? That’s blasphemy! The must punish themselves appropriately.

    • FB
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      *they*

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      I agree some auto-flailing is indicated.
      Seriously though, the Islamic ‘police’ deems a quote from the Quran blasphemy, priceless!

      • FB
        Posted April 20, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        To be precise, they say “extremely blasphemous”. And the blasphemer seems to be Allah himself. That’s probably the greatest blasphemy in the entire history of Islam.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The curious thing is that what they blocked—on the grounds of blasphemy—is a quote from the Qur’an!

    Sounds like something out of a comic novel — maybe by Joseph Heller, or by one of those wise-ass Brits, like Tom Sharpe or the Amises, père or fils.

  14. bewilderbeast
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing the very name of your blog blinds them, so looking for accurate reasons for their requests for censorship might be a waste of time.

  15. Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Your bones Prof(E)will never cast a shadow in Pakastain

  16. Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    … or give it 200 years in line with your prediction of religions “be dead by then.

  17. Steve Pollard
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    “The sin of disbelief in God is greater than committing murder”. So we’re all mortal sinners who are worse than, say, Timothy Veigh or Fred West.

    What f*cking depraved b*ll*cks. How can anyone with a working brain cell actually believe in such stuff?

    I guess the answer is that most Muslims don’t read, know or understand their Big Book of Magic Stuff properly, just as most Christians don’t read or know anything much about theirs.

  18. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    It sounds silly, but one could perform an experiment writing quotes from the Koran, Mia-spelled quotes from the Koran, quotes that sounds like the Koran but aren’t, etc, and observe which pages get blocked – to find out what exactly the problem is. I think it is the evolution, and other topics, being alongside Islam.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      The “post” they are complaining about is a png image and the text only appears as pixels in the image. This would suggest that it was actually reported by a human being rather than found in some generic search.

      In the post in which the image appears, it is preceded by this text:

      Here’s an example of “anti-Muslim garbage.” And indeed, it’s meant to incite fear, but it’s not garbage; in fact, the call for killing of apostates and unbelievers appears repeatedly throughout the Qur’an.

      https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/puffho-tries-to-whitewash-islam-again-yawn/

      My theory, which is mine is that somebody read that paragraph and then mistakenly reported the image URL.

  19. Filippo
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Well, for giggles, perhaps one might post the below to see if the benevolent and omniscient Pakistani analysts consider it blasphemy:

    “Do NOT slay the unbelievers wherever you find them. QU’RAN 2:191.”

  20. Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Have you considered setting up some sort of duplicate site where you copy all of the posts here over? That way the censors may miss it (since presumably it would have much fewer subscribers) and those who suffer from the censors could read your posts there.

    -Ryan

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      You’re volunteering to do the work? I tried moving a couple of posts from one blog to another last week, and it took 20 minutes. Some of that was learning curve, but that would be quite a task. I’d be surprised if you could move 200 per working day, so you can start to price the job from that.

      • Posted April 22, 2019 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        I’m not saying abandon this website entirely, but publish the posts on another site at the same time.

        -Ryan

  21. dvandivere
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Why not call and ask? They left a phone number…

  22. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Isn’t there a non-trivial branch of Islam which considers any translation of the Korean into anything other than the Arabic dialect in which it was dictated as a distortion of the word of Fido, and so a blasphemy in and of itself.


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