Wave of criticism of Facebook for the inclusion of Tawakkol Karman in its supervisory comittee

The Yemeni activist has ties to the Muslim Brothers, a group considered a terrorist organisation by various countries
Tawakkol Karman, during a press conference

PHOTO/ PHILIPPE DESMAZES  -   Tawakkol Karman, during a press conference

Outrage is rampant among Facebook users in many Arab countries. The social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg, in an initiative to monitor the veracity and appropriateness of the content circulating among the various user communities, has set up a Supervisory Board that will consist of twenty members.

What is the problem? That, among those selected to occupy one of the twenty seats, is the activist Tawakkol Karman. This Yemeni politician, leader of the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful defence of women's rights in her country. She won the prize ex aequo with Liberian activists Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee. 

However, Karman's sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood have drawn much criticism about her suitability for the position on the Facebook sage committee. Karman has been associated with the Yemeni Islamist party Al-Islah ('Reform'), considered one of the main political arms of the Brotherhood in the Arab country.

Although Karman has presented herself as a member of the more moderate line within her political formation, she has not hesitated to defend the Muslim Brotherhood against the United States. "They are still an anti-Tyrian movement despite Trump," she even wrote on her official Facebook account.

Her critics argue that holding a position that involves preventing the dissemination of hate speech is incompatible with harbouring sympathy for an organisation that has such a close relationship with terrorism of jihadist aetiology. Some countries even regard the Brotherhood itself as a terrorist entity in its own right.

Many users, in fact, have already begun to launch online campaigns to get the social network to reconsider its status. Among other measures, many have supported the 'hashtag' #RefuseTawakulKarman ('Rejection of Tawakkol Karman'), suspended their profiles on Facebook, uninstalled the application from their mobile phones and given negative ratings to the website in different browsers and application stores.

On a collective level, a citizen petition has already been initiated via the Change.org platform to have Karman removed from office. In total, the initiative already has more than 35,000 signatures. Among the participants in this group demand are writers Abdul-Rahman al-Lahim, Ibrahim al-Suleiman and Amani al-Ajlan, who have called on people to join them in order to "silence the voice of extremism and terrorism".

In 2011, Karman's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize was already surrounded by controversy. In the midst of the social upheavals that made her name known, her style of leadership was already described as "dictatorial" even by some of her colleagues, according to Reuters.