Update on Pakistan’s ban of our website

Aug 28, 2013

We have been getting conflicting reports from Pakistan about whether RichardDawkins.net has been banned there. Starting with this exchange on Twitter


 

we then received this: http://torrentfreak.com/top-torrent-sites-and-richard-dawkins-blocked-in-pakistan-130723/ about Torrent blockings in Pakistan, concluding with the following:

 

Another tweet from Pakistan:

 

By the way, I apologise for the fact that the screendumps from Twitter are undated.  It probably would be possible to track down the dates, and I might do so when I have more time.

 

Then we received this this

 

 

 

 

On the strength of all this information, we launched an appeal for help.

 

However, we then got a strong letter from Hazrat NaKhuda,  the President of Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics, denying that our site had been banned in Pakistan, as follows.

 

 

I wrote to  Hazrat NaKhuda himself asking whether he could suggest any explanation for the conflicting reports. He replied as follows:

 

 

I also wrote to another friendly organization in Pakistan whom I have come to trust, the Pakistani Atheists. They replied:

 

If anybody in Pakistan can shed any further light on the conflicting reports, we would be grateful to hear them. 

 

Thank you

 

Richard Dawkins

 

Written By: Richard Dawkins
continue to source article at

32 comments on “Update on Pakistan’s ban of our website

  • Anyone in Pakistan who finds their internet access blocked could try asserting their constitutional rights:

    19A. Right to information:
    Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.

    So if some religious fanatic at your ISP has put a block on RDFRS, contact your ISP and demand that access be restored (or demand they provide proof that the block has been done according to a legal directive). Threatening to take them to court for breaching your constitutional rights might be effective.



    Report abuse

  • To my Pakistani friends,

    As you can see (comment 3), some Westerners think your situation is hopeless. Please prove them wrong and make a positive contribution to your society.

    If you find access to a site blocked that you think provides useful information (such as RDFRS), then you can obviously look for a technical solution (such as proxy servers). However unless you assert your constitutional rights which are under threat then you are likely to lose them.

    So if you are worried that a complaint to your ISP will somehow lead to “room 101”, instead contact Bytes for All. This Pakistani human rights organisation obviously could not survive in an Orwellian state.
    If you are interested in bringing legal action yourself, try contacting the effective lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani (his email address can be found in this article



    Report abuse

  • I think it’s to do with the individual ISPs. I live in Pakistan, and I can freely access this website. In fact, I have been quite a frequent viewer of the site for some time.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    odalrich says:

    Taking into account the weird events that usually happen in that country, what is a surprise is the fact that Richard Dawkins’ web remained unmolested in Pakistan for so long.



    Report abuse

  • 7
    iAtheism says:

    This is so stupid. Their religion is so weak they have to block websites that that people to think for themselves. Well, if Christianity had it’s way, they’d block it too.



    Report abuse

  • 8
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    This post exposes you and your foundation as the hypocrites you are. I was banned from your Facebook page, not for breaking rules, but because your little clique of thugs couldn’t respond intelligently and with reason. They insulted and berated but when they saw that I could meet them politely and with reason they censored me, hiding every post in which they were defeated. Surely you can acknowledge that this makes you as hypocritical as the faiths you mock? Surely when you ban someone you have lost the debate. Please can you reinstate my access to rdf. Also, I believe your fundraising for a banned website that is not banned in reality is fraudulent under laws governing charitable giving. Please advise.



    Report abuse

  • 9
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    In reply to #8 by iAtheism:

    This is so stupid. Their religion is so weak they have to block websites that that people to think for themselves. Well, if Christianity had it’s way, they’d block it too.

    Nonsense. Dawkins banned me from his fb page because his clique of schoolyard name calling bullies lost debate after debate. Do you not see the hypocrisy? Dawkins is isolating himself from the new theist atheist debate and is more interested in fundraising. If he runs scared from an ordinary bloke on the street then doesn’t it say so much about his real agenda?



    Report abuse

  • 10
    dissentience says:

    seems like it isn’t too bad in pakistan if people can change things even in this day and age. this article seems to give me hope rather than pessimism for what’s at stake regarding freedom of information.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    kenny77 says:

    One possible solution against this is to use Tor ( https://www.torproject.org/ ).
    The principle is that many different users forward the traffic to each other. So if you are in pakistan and you can’t access the site, Tor will connect you with someone who does have access, allowing you to view the website through them.

    It’s very hard to block this, as it would mean blocking all the nodes that may give you access to the site, which is potentialy everyone.
    There is a risk though : while traffic between the nodes is encrypted, the exit node traffic isn’t encrypted, so use it with https if possible, or avoid logging on



    Report abuse

  • 13
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    In reply to #12 by kenny77:

    One possible solution against this is to use Tor ( https://www.torproject.org/ ).

    Again, this reveals that the appeal is fraudulent. The website is not blocked as can be seen by replies from Pakistani citizens and organisations. Also there is a cost free solution to any blocking so there is no need to raise funds. Any Pakistani can get around the block, if it ever happens, for hardly any effort and cost.

    Can mr Dawkins please tell us how he is earmarking the donations raised from this appeal, and how he intends to spend money naively contributed by blind and trusting fans, how much of the appeal will reach the intended secularists who are supposedly affected, and whether it is actually fraudulent to raise money for a situation that does not exist. Rdf appears to be a shambles, much like mr Dawkins public gaffes and his often circuitous arguments. But then he is the worlds first professional atheist.

    Also, as you are a champion of free speech, please give me access to post on your fb page. If you and your Internet cronies run scared from one ordinary man, it says little about the true strength of your atheistic beliefs. I say beliefs because in your original appeal for Pakistan, you yourself falsely insist that atheists are being victimised for their “belief”

    I expect you to run scared and ban me from here too. Or will you come out and answer my questions please.



    Report abuse

  • 14
    crazytosh says:

    Where in the article does it day that nobody has had the website blocked? If the website is on a “to block list” or being blocked by certain ISPs it is still a problem that should be addressed. In reply to #14 by Rdfrtexposed:
    >

    Again, this reveals that the appeal is fraudulent. The website is not blocked as can be seen by replies from Pakistani citizens and organisations. Also there is a cost free solution to any…



    Report abuse

  • May I propose that money donated for this campaign could be given to a non-profit Pakistan group who is best placed to have local knowledge of blocking problems and how to deal with them. The only organisation I know of that might be effective in mounting the required legal challenges is Bytes for All



    Report abuse

  • 16
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    In reply to #16 by Logar:

    May I propose that money donated for this campaign could be given to a non-profit Pakistan group who is best placed to have local knowledge of blocking problems and how to deal with them.

    No chance. It is lining the organisations general funds most likely, which I believe is an offence in the UK. The 100 millionaire Dawkins will be using this to promulgate his cult of personality, not the welfare of other people.



    Report abuse

  • 17
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    In reply to #15 by crazytosh:

    Where in the article does it day that nobody has had the website blocked? If the website is on a “to block list” or being blocked by certain ISPs it is still a problem that should be addressed.

    The original appeal made the claim that the website was blocked. Even though Pakistani poster said it was not. That is fraudulent. Dawkins new appeal here admits that the original appeal was wrong and he is seeking clarification while STILL raising funds for the same project, despite not being sure of the validity of the appeal and despite the evidence given by citizens and organisations in Pakistan. So in answer, the original appeal made the claim.



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #17 by Rdfrtexposed:

    You seem to want to imply violation of UK charity law (without any evidence). But the donations are in dollars presumably to the USA charity. You could do us a favour by spending a long time studying US charity law before you make further unsubstantiated allegations.
    The Mission Statement of RDFRS is “to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering”.
    Attempting to make this website available in countries governed by religious fundamentalism and intolerance is therefore within its general remit.
    Also the original appeal was not just about Pakistan,

    You can help us continue to reach secularists in Pakistan and other religiously oppressive countries.

    so even if there never was a block across the whole of Pakistan, you cant use the word “fraudulent”, because there are still people there who want such a ban, and in other countries not too far from Mecca there may already be countrywide blocks.



    Report abuse

  • 19
    Rdfrtexposed says:

    In reply to #19 by Logar:

    In reply to #17 by Rdfrtexposed:

    You seem to want to imply violation of UK charity law (without any evidence). But the donations are in dollars presumably to the USA charity. You could do us a favour by spending a long time studying US charity law before you make further unsubstantiated allegations…

    First, to answer the CrazyTosh regarding the appeal not making the claim the website had been banned. Here are the quotes from the original appeal:
    “They can ban our website, but …”
    “The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science website has been banned in Pakistan!”
    “RDF banned in Pakistan”
    “RDFRS are not surprised by the banishment of our website”

    And now, they are not even “certain” it has been banned as everyone seems to be saying it’s fine. But guess what? The money they duped off atheists will still line the RDF coffers.

    Why duped? Because the fix to any ban is free to any internet user. There is no need to raise money for a non-existent issue that has a free fix

    As to fraudulent appeal – anything that is misleading, such as the appeal issued earlier (it was not based on fact) is fraud. In the UK and the US. I am not implying or using unsubstantiated allegations. I am stating fact. The appeal was misleading, see the quotes above. Why do you think they haven’t issued a statement. It’s not as if they are unaware of this thread. This man worth 100 million has overstepped a mark in grabbing cash off gullible fans.

    Also note the huge gaffe as Dawkins admits atheism is a belief:
    “Your support will allow us to build a safe community for those ostracized and isolated for their beliefs.” For their what? Their BELIEFS.

    Nice work.Overturning years of “atheism is not a belief” nonsense in one moment.

    RDF please restore my access to the FB site. Yuo complain that your free speech was censored (wrongly) then censored me. Why? Because your thugs could not answer me unless they threw insults and vile language not reason. 🙂



    Report abuse

  • 20
    downshifter says:

    In reply to #20 by Rdfrtexposed:

    As to fraudulent appeal – anything that is misleading, such as the appeal issued earlier (it was not based on fact) is fraud.

    Actually, in order for fraud to exist, there has to be the intent to deceive. You have not demonstrated any such intent.

    Why do you think they haven’t issued a statement.

    This thread IS the statement! It’s rather odd that you are claiming they have been exposed, when your source of information is this very site!

    BTW, I am willing to criticize this fund driver. As much as it will probably fan this guy’s flames, the Foundation should have (although they are not obliged to) made it clear how these funds were going to be used to help specifically with the Pakistan issue.



    Report abuse

  • 21
    DawkinsHypocrite says:

    In reply to #21 by downshifter:

    In reply to #20 by Rdfrtexposed:

    Dawkins banned RDFRTExposed? What a hypocrite. He can’t even take on one dissenter and whinges that he is banned (not) in Pakistan. How weak is atheism when its leader runs from an ordinary man? He is as censorial as the worst religious leaders.

    Downshifter, you are right that the appeal was vague and poorly conceived. there was deception in that the appeal has continued despite them being aware that the appeal’s basis was being called into dispute. As you can see, they deleted all the posts and have not issued any denial or removed the now-false appeal. Makes you wonder, eh?

    You can join ‘richard dawkins foundation of reason and science exposed’ on fb. All the screenshots of the debate here will appear there later.



    Report abuse

  • 22
    DawkinsHypocrite says:

    In reply to #19 by Logar:

    RDFExposed was banned. All posts deleted. How weak is Dawkins’ position if he runs scared from one ordinary man, instead of meeting me head-on and quashing me as the giant he builds himself up to be. Personally, take this as a warning of how fundamentalist and authoritarian Dawkins brand of atheism would become, if given power. He is duping you for your cash. “Give me cash for unspecified projects with dubious basis and do not dare to offer dissent.”

    C’mon RDF man up and either debate with me or at least have the respect and tolerance to allow me access to the free speech you desperately seek yourselves. Or will you ban me and lose the debate once more?



    Report abuse

  • 24
    Richard Dawkins says:

    There may be no ban any more, but my article here provided several pieces of direct evidence that there was a ban so perhaps you could enlighten me as to why you are so ready to deny it.

    Richard

    In reply to #24 by Informed:

    There is no ban. So please enlighten me as to how the donations have been spent by the foundation?



    Report abuse

  • 25
    AbsarTaqvi says:

    I’ve been visiting the site on daily basis for months now and never faced denial of access. I think those who did experience blockage might have been using PTCL, the stae-owned telecommunications power house, which habitually conducts stupidity.



    Report abuse

  • 26
    Richard Dawkins says:

    Thank you, AbsarTaqvi, that is helpful. What is NOT helpful is those who say “I personally have not experienced a ban, therefore nobody has.”

    In reply to #26 by AbsarTaqvi:

    I’ve been visiting the site on daily basis for months now and never faced denial of access. I think those who did experience blockage might have been using PTCL, the stae-owned telecommunications power house, which habitually conducts stupidity.



    Report abuse

  • 27
    Richard Dawkins says:

    Hazrit NaKhuda, The President of Pakistan Atheists and Agnostics, whose original letter was the only serious reason we had for doubting the ban on our website, has now written a long and very helpful new letter, having looked into the matter further. It seems, as we came to suspect, that we WERE banned, but only temporarily. Here is his new letter:-

    Hi Richard,

    I was able to find out why you got conflicting reports. Before that i saw that you had to issue a clarification on this subject. I feel really sorry for that. I just thought that i should point it out to you. I did not know something as simple as this would require you to do that.

    Anyway the reason 1 listed above seems to be the case. A week back PTA did announce that they had acquired a new system that enabled them filter the internet better. And around the time when these people experienced problems accessing your website they were testing it. From a source inside PTA i found out that your website is on their “list” as he put it. So it is true that your website was blocked then, but it isn’t now.

    What does this means for the future? Will it be blocked again? I simply don’t know. They don’t plan to block everything on their list (because they still can’t). We will know when they deploy the system full scale. However if your website ever features in the local media, PTA will ban it. (if it is the news and it is against Islam they ban it)

    One more thing getting banned because you are are getting coverage in Pakistan is not necessarily a bad thing. Banning Richard Dawkins will automatically stir a debate about “Who Richard Dawkins is? and what did he do?” in the minds of the people who haven’t really heard of you . And after that everyone with a computer in Pakistan will visit your website through proxies, VPNs and other mechanisms. Internet users in Pakistan have long known how to bypass filters.

    Last note, sooner or later, if not in Pakistan then somewhere else your website will be banned in some parts of the Muslim world. Make no mistakes about it. It would be wise to be prepared for it and invest something to make sure when that happens we have mechanisms to circumvent it. If Pakistani Atheists & Agnostics can do anything do help you in that regard or anything else just let us know. You have a lot of fans in PAA including me and we would really like to work with RDFRS on this.

    Hazrat NaKhuda



    Report abuse

  • 28
    My Shapely Assets says:

    Thank you for taking the time out to explain everything Richard Dawkins. As i know you’re very busy at the moment preparing for your UK and US book tour. Very kind and thoughtful of you.



    Report abuse

  • 29
    Informed 2 says:

    In reply to #25 by Richard Dawkins:
    Direct evidence? So if a group of people claim something, it becomes the truth?

    Oh wait a minute…

    P.s: If this is the richard dawkins, its an honour to be having this conversation. Despite disagreeing with your views, im quite a fan of your work. On another note, can you confirm if its true that when we fall on our backs the tingling sensation in the spine is a left over vestige of when our brains used to send signals to the tails of our ancestors? Thanks.

    There may be no ban any more, but my article here provided several pieces of direct evidence that there was a ban so perhaps you could enlighten me as to why you are so ready to deny it.

    Richard

    In reply to #24 by Informed:

    There is no ban. So please enlighten me as to how the donations have been…



    Report abuse

  • 30
    Hypatia415 says:

    Richard, that Pakistani Atheists green logo with the star and crescent is very striking and attractive. Can we get this as a car bumper sticker and lapel badge to show our solidarity with our atheist friends in Pakistan and other Islamic countries where apostasy is a crime? We need to find more effective ways of shaming countries that persecute atheists……and of shaming our politicians and those at the UN for doing so little in defence of this basic human right.



    Report abuse

  • 31
    Infodrunk says:

    My parents are from here. I’ve been a non-believer since middle school. Might have been my own conclusions over time or just watching and reading a lot of science fiction and genre stuff or my astronomy teacher’s persuasive explanation of the origins of the universe that made the Quran sound like a children’s fairytale. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not a well developed society in the sense of not just education, but also social acceptance of different ideas. While much of my family have merged into this country through intermarriage, some have remained religious (albeit harmless in the case of my handicapped family) and aren’t very pleasant to interact with. Atheists exist in Pakistan, but they won’t admit it. They’ll just drink quietly with friends in their homes and men and women date when they can get away with it, but it’s absurd to live that way. The Afghan war hasn’t helped either as it brought in Saudi Wahhabist influence to the Pashtuns who were more moderate than they are now. I mean they were medieval in the tribal areas, but not fanatics and definitely not jihadists. Still, inevitably technology will change that place. Instead of wars we should help them develop free internet for everyone and fundamentalism won’t stand a chance. The Arab Spring has shown just how technology can create real social change even if the Islamists are there to take advantage of the chaos as in Egypt. One thing though, we in the US need to stop intervening over there in the ‘Greater Middle East’. It’s pointless, waste of money and resources that we could use to fund NASA or something useful. Islam’s a tough nut to crack. Christianity and Judaism are similar, but ‘Western’ societies made the smart move towards secularism and discarded their harsh Western Semitic/Abrahamic religions. There is a solution to this problem though and it’s not more war, but rather a more long-term interactive process.



    Report abuse

  • Dear mr Dawkins, thank you for finally getting involved. And restoring my access to your site. You banned me for asking polite but pertinent questions which even you can see is hypocritical and ironic when tied into the subject of your claim that you were banned in Pakistan. Hopefully you will respect MY freedom of speech as much as I and you respect your own.

    I’m pleased you are here in person but I notice you failed to answer the direct question as to what you are doing with the money. Please tell us what you are doing with the money. I hope it isn’t going to sit in the RDF UK account or get transferred into your USA accounts. I hope you will fulfil your obligations to donors by making the money work for them.

    Why did you launch an appeal without even asking Pakistanis? Why did you ignore Pakistanis telling you that they could access your site, on the same page you were claiming a ban?

    I believe donations for a specific project must be ring fenced at least in the UK and only used on that specific project. How have you separated those donations? What is the proposal for delivering the claimed safe community and how and when are you implementing it?

    Why are you asking people for donations when any ban has a simple and free fix that any Internet user can implement? Just ask the Chinese for advice on that issue.

    Why are you still raising money for a project that was shown by Pakistani citizens and secular organisations to be misinformed or at the very least outdated, if a ban was momentarily in place. This is deceptive and fraudulent. You cannot continue the claim that you are being banned, with a tiny update link to a page where you admit you got it wrong or at least did not do real research. You simply took a few Internet comments and flew with it without proper research. A simple phone call to your Pakistani counterparts would easily have resolved the situation but then you would not have been receiving much needed funds.

    With thanks
    Antg



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.