Pakistan Political Candidate Accused of Blasphemy


MAY 28, 2024


Today, May 28, 2024, the Oversight Board selected a case referred by Meta regarding a video posted to Instagram. The video includes a Pakistani politician who was a candidate in the 2024 Pakistan General Election delivering a political speech. In the video, the politician states as translated: “the only entity after God is Nawaz Sharif.” Sharif is a Pakistani businessman and politician who previously served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990-1993, 1997-1998, and 2013-2017. The text overlay to the video states, as translated, that the candidate is “crossing all limits of faithlessness.” Untranslated, the text uses the Arabic term “kufr,” which roughly means “faithlessness” or “non-belief”, and can be understood as the rejection or denial of God and his teachings under Islam.

Meta took down this content for violating our Coordinating Harm and Promoting Crime policy, as laid out in the Instagram Community Guidelines and Facebook Community Standards.

Meta referred this case to the board because we found it significant and difficult as it creates tension between our values of safety and voice.

The text overlay constitutes an allegation of blasphemy, suggesting that the politician has committed shirk – the belief in more than one God or holding up anything or anyone as equal to God – which violates Islamic law and may be construed as violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. While there is a public interest value of allowing debate and critique of politicians during elections, we ultimately determined that there is a high risk of offline violence associated with these types of allegations which warrants removal under our policies.

We will implement the board’s decision once it has finished deliberating, and we will update this post accordingly. Please see the board’s website for the decision when they issue it.