Below is the official statement sent out today by Ashraf Osman. When I first heard from Ashraf that the person known as Administrator Josh turned out to not be an employee of FACEBOOK after all, but instead an evil prankster, I asked Ashraf for something to post above the interview on PhillySound which was published online yesterday. Someone I know has already contacted me to accuse us all of acting too quickly, and foolishly. I completely disagree. Ashraf and his friends made immediate contact with Josh, asking what could be done to stop the shutdown of the "Arab LBTG" site. Josh responded, not only with more details of the situation, but with the willingness to negotiate the terms with which the site should be managed in order to avoid termination. It's clear that Josh, whoever Josh really is, has an agenda one way or another. The fact is Ashraf and his friends on the Arab LBTG site were doing the best they could, working under the pressure of an assumed deadline for action, and trying their best to rally support, while at the same time gathering other ideas around them of how to act. Whether Josh knows it or not, Josh proved to the Arab LBTG group and others that NO ONE was going to let anything happen to this group without a fight! But of course the best news is that Josh is a fake. It's terrible that there are gay and lesbians in Arab nations right now who are still probably unaware that this was a hoax, and very worried for their lives. This is not a joke at all, because if you read Ashraf's interview yesterday he mentioned such e-mails from others with subject lines like, "You could get killed... I am worried about you guys." And if Josh knows what's best for him he will keep his own identity in the closet, because I for one would like to punch him in the face!
FROM ASHRAF OSMAN
It has just come to the attention of the administrators of the petition to prevent Arab LBTG from being shut down that we have been the subject of a malicious ploy. It has emerged, after concerns about the authenticity of the person representing Facebook have been raised, that the person in question is an impostor and does not represent Facebook. Facebook stated that they have not been contacted by any governments about the group, and that they will not be shutting it down. (The full statement can now be found on the petition page.) I apologize on behalf of the petition administrators for propagating this without being more questioning in the first place. And while this certainly is a huge relief, and the reaction to the matter was highly validating of the genuine concern for civil liberties and free speech in this country and the cyber-society as a whole, it remains that many of the issues brought forth by this unfortunate debacle are true, including the lack of rights for persons of alternative sexualities in Arab and Islamic countries, and the censorship of governments around the world of cyber-content.
Thank you for your understanding,