Pakistan blocks Twitter over blasphemous content


Pakistan blocked Twitter on Sunday after the social media site refused to take down content Pakistan deemed offensive.


Sean Gallup

Pakistan blocked Twitter on Sunday after the social media site refused to remove posts promoting a Facebook competition involving caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, the AFP reported.

Mohammad Younis Khan, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told the AFP, "The website has been banned by the Ministry of Information Technology and the decision was conveyed to us. There was blasphemous material on Twitter. Both Facebook and Twitter were involved. We negotiated with both. Facebook has agreed to remove the stuff but Twitter is not responding to us."

Al Jazeera reporter Asad Hashim, who is in Karachi, told his news organization he believed the site ban went into effect sometime about 8:00GMT (1pm local time).

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Cartoon depictions, even favorable ones, of Prophet Mohammed are not accepted in the Muslim community. It is considered blasphemy to ever depict Mohammed.

ABC noted several incidents in recent memory where Muslims expressed their anger at publications depicting Mohammed.

One such incident occured four years ago when Muslims across the globe staged angry protests over the publication of a satirical Mohammed cartoon in European newspapers. Following the cartoon, there was a suicide attack outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad that killed eight people. Al Qaeda claimed the attack was to avenge the cartoons.

Other social media site have been banned in Pakistan in the past. A top court in Pakistan ordered a ban on Facebook in 2010 according to the Associated Press, over a similar competition. The ban was lifted about two weeks later, once Facebook blocked the competition in Pakistan. The Pakistani government said at the time that it would continue to monitor other major websites for anti-Islamic links and content.

Mohammad Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication's Authority, told the Associated Press, "The ministry officials are still trying to make them (Twitter) agree, and once they remove that stuff, the site will be unblocked."

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