PM Modi To Skip UNGA, Patels To Join Demonstrations in New York, Silicon Valley
NEW DELHI: Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas. We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share.” said Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo controversy. For perhaps the first time Zuckerberg is set to face the peoples ire at his own headquarters when protesters picket during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The ‘Sikhs for Justice’ Page called on supporters to picket the FB headquarters in protest against Zuckerberg’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 27 at Menlo Park, California, United States. The call to protest has worried New Delhi as well, particularly as several groups have come together along with senior American professors in registering their protest against the welcome being given to PM Modi.
SFJ is an organisation committed to get justice for the victims of the 1984 violence in New Delhi. It organised major protests against PM Modi for the Gujarat violence during his visit to the United Nations last year, taking a lead in carrying out a mock trial on the lawns facing the White House in Washington. It has been using the FB page to mobilise support for the protests being held against the Prime Minister in New York, and California.
Significantly, Facebook had run into a major controversy in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo when it removed a post on Facebook by Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi who had countered Zuckerberg’s views on the attack. “Freedom of expression includes criticism, disagreement or even rejection of faiths or ideology … but should not and must not allow ‘insult’,” Abbasi had written. “Would it be ‘freedom of expression’ if I brand black people as niggers or if I say Hitler was a messiah? Would I not be branded a racist or anti-semitic?”
The post was removed by Facebook on the grounds of “community standards” but after an uproar largely on the social media Zuckerberg conceded that his team “might have made a mistake” and instructions were subsequently given to restore the post. The Guardian has described FB as the “least permissive” of such sites online maintaining that it has also removed photographs of breastfeeding mothers. Interestingly Google carries a line against the Sikhs for Justice/Facebook page maintaining that it has been blocked.
3. 'Picket FB HQ on Sept 27th at 9am Facebook has blocked SFJ page and Sikh. Videos... Sikhs for Justice updated their cover photo. 7 hrs ·. Sikhs for Justice's
However, The Citizen had no difficulty in accessing the Facebook page.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US starting this week has already generated a controversy with activists, Sikhs and others joining in to demonstrate against his visit. Senior academics from top American Universities have written a signed letter protesting against the PM’s visit to Silicon Valley. (http://www.thecitizen.in/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=5001)
SFJ will picket the Facebook headquarters in protest against what it described as the social media corporate’s “collaboration with a human rights violation”. This will be timed to coincide with the joint town hall question and answer session hosted by Zuckerberg for PM Modi. The groups participating in the protest have claimed that they are against FB’s collaboration as PM Modi is leading a “forcible conversion” campaign “to turn India into a Hindu nation.”
The Prime Minister has selected Silicon Valley over the address to the United Nations General Assembly where Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj will do the honours. He will be meeting US President Barack Obama flying the virtual length and breadth of the US to do so. After visiting the Silicon Valley for his meetings with top honchos, PM Modi will return to New York to meet with President Obama as the latter was unable to find time for him before this. However, there will be no meals and walks in Washington this time around.
In fact, the adulation a la Madison Garden from the Indian diaspora might be missing this time with the strong community of Patels divided in their responses to the Prime Minister. A section of the community is preparing to sit in protest against him, taking their cue from 22 year old Hardik Patel who is still not settling down in Gujarat. The Patels have announced their decision to demonstrate for their ‘rights’ in both New York and California during the Prime Ministers visit.
A march beginning later on Monday has also been scheduled from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama in a replay of the American route taken to focus on racial injustice. A small group of Patels is expected to participate in this, with police excesses and discrimination against their community being the slogan. One Alpesh Patel is amongst the local organisers in the United States of this protest. The last US census reportedly counted 150,000 Patels making it one of the largest immigrant communities outside India. Patel has been echoing Hardik Patel in maintaining that their prowess abroad should not be mixed with the discrimination in India. And that many had left India as a result of this to seek employment abroad "We care about our country. Talented people should work in India,” Alpesh Patel said to the media.