Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) in Johannesburg have strongly condemned the decision by Facebook to ban a staff member from using its platform for 30 days after he posted an advert for the launch of a book written by MEMO's director, titled Engaging the World: the Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy.
Facebook claimed that the post violated its Community Standards, rejected an appeal from MEMO staff to reverse the decision, and referred MEMO to its Oversight Board.
MEMO's Director Dr Daud Abdullah and author of the book said the decision is not entirely surprising as it is "yet further proof that the social media giant has been hijacked by special interest groups driven by an anti-Palestinian agenda."
For his part, AMEC's Director, Mr Na'eem Jeenah, and publisher of the book, said, "Not being content with banning pro-Palestinian posts or conflating Judaism with Zionism, or with regarding comment critical of Israel as anti-Semitic, Facebook has now taken it upon itself to also censor and ban academic works and announcements of academic events."
Jeenah described Facebook's ban as "a dangerous and deplorable act that seeks to curtail free speech and redefine freedom of expression to what Facebook regards as politically acceptable."
MEMO and AMEC note that the book, Engaging the World: the Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy, was being discussed by internationally-acclaimed academics, Palestinian and Israeli, as well as former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short.
In his endorsement, world-renowned Israeli-born historian, Professor Ilan Pappé, said: "This book challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the West. It is a must read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian movement."
Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of the Cordoba Foundation, who jointly hosted the event with AMEC and MEMO, said: "This new book by Dr Daud Abdullah is one of the most important illustrations of an issue which affects everyone concerned with peace, justice, and democracy, wherever they may be, and closing it or any discussion around it, amounts to the most flagrant form of oppression to freedom of speech."
Engaging the World: the Making of Hamas's Foreign Policy is available at MEMO Publishers.