Political rhetoric in the United States has become so toxic that Facebook’s chief executive decided to speak up.
“After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the 31-year old co-founder and CEO of Facebook, in a post on his profile Wednesday. “If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.”
On its face, the statement makes sense. Muslims make up approximately 20 percent of the world’s population, and Facebook says its mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” That includes people of many different ethnic groups and religions across the globe.
Following terrorist attacks in Paris and a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, politicians in the US and Europe have threatened new rounds of legislation to track and halt the movement of Muslims, whether or not they’re connected to suspected terrorists. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Monday said any non-citizen Muslims should not be allowed into the US. Politicians have also stepped up pressure on social networks like Facebook to push back against extremists and terrorists, effectively removing their platform for communicating on the Web.
Zuckerberg’s statement represents the increasing politicization of Silicon Valley, where executives feel they must speak out on a variety of issues, from cybersecurity and privacy to social issues such as gay rights.
Zuckerberg said he was inspired to speak up because of his teachings as a Jew, adding that his parents taught him to speak up against attacks on all communities. “Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone,” he wrote.