Facebook ‘kills’ charity’s petition against forced marriage of Christian women and girls – Eurasia Review

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By Shannon Mullen

Catholic charity says it was censored and misrepresented by Facebook without explanation in connection with the group’s recent campaign of petitions calling for increased efforts to end kidnappings, forced conversion and marriage of women and Christian girls in Islamic countries.

London-based Aid to the Church in Need UK launched their campaign with a series of Facebook ads in early November. The organization’s effort came in conjunction with the release of its new report, titled “Hear Her Cries,” which details the endemic and largely ignored abuse of women and girls who are Christian or members of other religious minority groups in the United States. hands of Islamic extremists. in Nigeria, Mozambique, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan.

Within a week, on November 10, Facebook informed the charity that the social media giant was sharply reducing the number of ads the group could post. The notice did not specify a reason.

“This is because too many ads have been hidden or flagged for the ad accounts associated with this business. People hide and report advertisements because they find them offensive, deceptive, sexually inappropriate, violent, on a sensitive topic or for other reasons, ”the advisory reads.

The association claims it has also lost access to the WhatsApp instant messaging platform and Instagram, both owned by Facebook.

Since the restrictions were imposed, Aid to the Church in Need UK claims to have tried unsuccessfully to get an explanation from Facebook. The closest group to receiving a response was an email stating that the matter was under review.

“We fully understand the urgency of this matter and how important it is to you, but such situations require detailed investigation and solution, and given the circumstances, we cannot offer a time frame,” it read. in the email, sent by “Alex” from “Assistance Conciergerie Facebook”.

John Pontifex, head of press and information for the charity, told CNA that Facebook’s action effectively “killed” the group’s petition campaign, which ultimately garnered 3,210 signatures. That total was about a quarter of what the charity had planned, based on the results of a previous petitions campaign, he said. Pontifex delivered the petitions on December 15 to Fiona Bruce, an MP who is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy for religious freedom.

In a statement, Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need UK, lambasted Facebook for his actions.

“We are horrified that our campaign to help suffering women has been censored so drastically,” he said.

“By claiming to have banned our ad for violating its guidelines, but refusing to say which guidelines or how, Facebook has made itself a judge, jury and executioner.”

Kyrke-Smith went on to accuse Facebook of aiding and abetting the abuse the charity is trying to stop.

“By slowing down this campaign, they are silencing these women twice,” he said. “They are silenced when they are arrested in their homes and forced to live with their captors, and have now been silenced by Facebook.”

Another human rights activist focused on the issue of human trafficking and child marriage, calling Facebook’s actions in support of Aid to the Church in Need “disturbing.”

“Sadly, violence against women is a human rights violation that transcends cultural, ethnic and religious divides. Aid to the Church in Need’s work to end sexual violence against women unifies and amplifies the voices of minority religious groups in Hindu, Yazidi and Christian communities, ”Laura Bramon Hassan told CNA , executive director of the Philomena Project.

“Facebook UK’s decision to attack this coalition for highlighting the plight of a group is puzzling and disturbing,” she said.

A Facebook spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment ahead of the post.

Aid to the Church in Need is a pontifical foundation reporting directly to the Holy See that defends people of faith who are “persecuted, oppressed or in need,” according to the group’s mission statement.

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