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Facebook executive who shared anti-Muslim post apologises: Report | News

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A Facebook India executive has apologised to Muslim staff for sharing a post that dubbed Muslims in India a “degenerate community”, according to a report by BuzzFeed News.

The post, originally written by a police officer last year in response to nationwide protests against a new citizenship law, said for Muslims, “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter”.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed last year by India’s Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi fast-tracks nationality for non-Muslim minorities from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The United Nations has termed the law “fundamentally discriminatory”.

“The intent of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam,” Ankhi Das, the social media giant’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia, wrote in an internal message obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The intent of my personal Facebook post was not to denigrate Islam.

Ankhi Das, Facebook’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia

“It was to reflect my deep belief in celebrating feminism and civic participation. I value all perspectives I have heard over the past days about how the post was received and as a result I have deleted the post. I genuinely regret any hurt it may have caused, including to my Muslim colleagues in the company.”

‘Hate speech and Islamophobia’

Some Muslim employees of the company commented on Das’s apology. “As a company, we now need to do an honest reflection of hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims on our platform,” an employee said as reported by BuzzFeed.

Facebook is under fire after The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Das refused to apply the company’s hate speech policies to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”.

Facebook ignored its hate speech policy and allowed anti-Muslim posts on its platform to avoid ruining the company’s relationship with India’s governing party (the BJP), said the report by The Wall Street Journal.

Journalist Rana Ayyub writing in The Washington Post accused Facebook of ‘debilitating Indian democracy’ [File: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo]

“The company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to [T Raja] Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence,” the WSJ report said based on interviews with current and former Facebook employees.

Singh, the BJP’s only legislator in the southern state of Telangana, is known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. The WSJ said the right-wing politician had demanded mainly-Muslim Rohingya refugees be shot, called India’s Muslims traitors and threatened to demolish mosques in his Facebook posts and public speeches.

Das filed a police complaint saying she received death threats after the WSJ report drew social media fury. She has said that some individuals online had “intentionally vilified” her.

With nearly 300 million users, India is Facebook’s biggest market, while the social media’s messaging service, WhatsApp, has nearly 500 million users in the South Asian nation of 1.4 billion people. Critics have accused the social network of prioritising profit over ethics as it has allowed hate speech on its platforms.

On Instagram, owned by Facebook, a verified account, @HindustaniBhau, which has 3.4 million followers, recently called for violence against minorities. His post was only taken down after public outcry.

Journalist Rana Ayyub, writing in The Washington Post, accused Facebook of “debilitating Indian democracy”. “A platform that was once meant to spread ideas and opinions has now become a tool that enables and encourages fascism,” she wrote.

‘Non-partisan platform’

Last Friday, the social media giant said it was a “non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely”.

“We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s India head, said in an online post.

We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form.

Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s India head

“There is no place for hate speech on our platform. We have an impartial approach to dealing with content and are strongly governed by our Community Standards … We have removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India when it violates our Community Standards.”

Mohan however, admitted the social media firm “needed to do more”.

Accusations of bias comes in the wake of criticism directed at Facebook for platforming white supremacists in the West and far-right groups in other parts of the world, including Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalists have demonised Muslim-majority Rohingya. Nearly one million Rohingya have been forced to flee after years of anti-Muslim hate propaganda online, including Facebook.

In the United States and around the world, Facebook employees are raising questions about whether adequate procedures and content regulation practices were being followed by the India team, sources familiar with discussions told the Reuters news agency.

An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees on one internal platform, and seen by Reuters, demands company leaders acknowledge and denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” and ensure more policy consistency.

The letter also demanded that Facebook’s “policy team in India (and elsewhere) includes diverse representation”.

On Tuesday, Delhi state legislature began proceedings against Facebook and recommended to summon officials from the company.

An Indian parliamentary panel will also question Facebook executives about the company’s hate speech regulation policies in India on September 2.

India’s main opposition Congress party has called for a parliamentary panel to investigate what it has described as favourable treatment by Facebook’s India team towards the country’s governing right-wing party.

Communication and Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad shakes hands with COO, Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, during a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday. Facebook's Global Public Policy Vi

Ankhi Das, right, told staff members that punishing violations by governing party politicians would ‘damage the company’s business prospects’ [File: Praveen Negi/The India Today Group via Getty Images]





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet

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FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.


According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.



Source – observer.ug

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News

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The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Nigerian student in Ukraine: 'Mummy we keep hearing bombs'

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Hauwa’s son Suleiman is a Nigerian student in Sumy – she says the family are fearful and anxious.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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