Pakistan blocks YouTube over blasphemous material
YouTube also shut down
Islamabad, May 21: Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing
website YouTube indefinitely in a bid to contain "blasphemous"
material, officials said on Thursday.
The blockade came hours after the Pakistan Telecommunication
Authority (PTA) directed Internet service providers to stop access to
social network site Facebook indefinitely on Wednesday because of an
online competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims.
Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider,
said PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an "immediate" block
"It was a serious instruction as they wanted us to do it quickly and let them know after that," he told Reuters.
YouTube was also blocked in the Muslim country in 2007 for about a day for what it called un-Islamic videos.
PTA spokesman, Khurram Ali Mehran, said the action was taken after
the authority determined that content considered blasphemous by devout
Muslims was being posted on the website.
"Before shutting down (YouTube), we did try just to block particular
URLs or links, and access to 450 links on the Internet were stopped,
but the blasphemous content kept appearing so we ordered a total shut
down," he said.
He regretted that the administrators at the Facebook and YouTube had not taken the content off despite Pakistan's protests.
"Their attitude was in contravention to international resolutions
and their own policies advertised on the Web for the general public,"
The PTA issued a statement Thursday saying, "PTA would welcome the
concerned authorities of Facebook and YouTube to contact the PTA for
resolving the issue at the earliest which ensures religious harmony and
The PTA decision to block all of Facebook also cut Pakistanis off
from groups and pages dedicated to opposing the competition, which have
thousands more supporters than the competition does.
Along with the ban, some popular websites, including Wikipedia and
Flickr, have been inaccessible in Pakistan since Wednesday night. But
the spokesman said it happened purely due to a technical reason and no
orders were passed against them.
He said the authority was monitoring other websites as well.
Siraj said the blocking of the two websites would cut up to a quarter of total Internet traffic in Pakistan.
"It'll have an impact on the overall Internet traffic as they eat up
20 to 25 per cent of the country's total 65 giga-bytes traffic," he
After the PTA's directives against Facebook and YouTube, Pakistani
mobile companies blocked all Blackberry services on Wednesday night but
restored services used by non-corporate users later on Thursday.
"We have intimated to the Blackberry service administrators in
Canada to block them and once it's done, the service will be restored
fully," said Farhan Butt, an official at Pakistan's biggest cellular
The closure of services worried Blackberry users.
"The biggest concern for us ... is the delay in decision making,"
said Zahid Sheikh, head of information technology department at
National Foods Limited in Karachi city.
"Our top officials and senior management are not always in office.
They do travel and work from remote locations, and with this shut down,
they can't access emails."
Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005
sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries. Around 50 people were
killed during violent protests in Muslim countries in 2006 over the
cartoons, five of them in Pakistan.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Denmark's
embassy in Islamabad in 2008, killing six people, saying it was in
revenge for publication of the caricatures.
"students of pakistan must unite to show facebook that this type of abuse will not be tolerated and once show is made then we can readopt use of facebook for communication and business"
Name: asif arif ali
City, Country: karachi,pakistan
"US statment is like shedding crocodile tears and playing with the hearts and souls of Muslims. What if Pakistani govt could have only verbaly slammed Talibans and not taken action against them?. US must stop these outrageous activities under its nose. Did any of you hear any strong statement from president or prime minister of Pakistan when the whole country is boiling with this debate and did Bilawal Zardari Bhutto stopped his Facebook account?. Lets find the answers."
Name: Alishba Khan
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan
"this news is far from the truth. The Student Action Committee did not organize any such protest."
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan
"EXCELLENT WORK BY PAKISTANI PEOPLE ITS THEIR RIGHT"
Name: ARNOLD BOLDE
City, Country: USA
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PTA blocks access to YouTube
Islamabad: Online social network users in the country were
pushed into deeper troubles on Thursday when the Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked the video-sharing website
YouTube a day after blocking access to Facebook.
YouTube was the fourth most accessed website from Pakistan.
The PTA said in a statement it had asked all operators to shut down www.youtube.com because of its sacrilegious content.
said it had decided to block the sites from being viewed within the
country after making all possible efforts within its jurisdiction,
including using regular channels available on the Facebook and YouTube,
to launch protest against an increase in derogatory material online
over the past two weeks.
The PTA has so far blocked more than 450 internet links containing such material.
It said the move was in line with the Constitution and the wishes of the people.
It said the attitude of administrators of Facebook and YouTube was in contravention of their own policies advertised on the web.
Yet the PTA would welcome reconciliatory dialogue, the statement said.
Prime Minister's Adviser on Information Technology Latif Khosa claimed responsibility for blocking the sites.
of our faith and religion has been maintained because we have shown
zero tolerance towards sacrilegious contents. I have instructed the PTA
to exercise maximum authority to block sites that mock our Prophet
(pbuh) and disrespect feelings of Muslims," he said.
He said the
government was not denying the people, especially the youth, the
technology, but "our reaction has to be prominent against evil".
However, it was yet to be seen how successfully the government could
keep more than 20 million Pakistani internet users from accessing the
YouTube was more than just a video-sharing
website. It was widely used by the young and the old to log on to local
news channels like Geo, DawnNews and ARY.
It was a major source of information when the previous military dictator had banned some TV channels.
news, people could access religious, educational, musical and science
programmes, talk shows and documentaries through YouTube. It is also a
popular website which has often served the interests of Muslims and
Pakistanis by carrying videos which highlight the plight of Kashmiris
and Palestinians as well as the atrocities of Taliban.
too was more than a social network and had become a source of income
for students, young entrepreneurs and multinationals which could place
their advertisements and announcements on it.
Some other websites, including Wikipedia and Flickr, have also been
inaccessible in Pakistan since Wednesday night.
But a spokesman
for the PTA said those sites had been blocked because of a technical
reason and no orders had been issued against them.
However, he said the authority was monitoring other websites. Dawn
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Karachi: The sensitive nature of the controversy regarding Facebook, a social
networking site, was on full display on Thursday, where emotions ran
high leading to an altercation outside the Karachi Press Club.
civil society activists held a press conference questioning the
extensive blocking of websites by the Pakistan Telecommunications
Authority (PTA), which they termed to be Internet censorship.
said that the basic issue was of specific blasphemous pages – and
therefore the specific URLs of those offensive pages should have been
blocked instead of a blanket bar on websites.
The PTA had
blocked many websites across Pakistan – many of which had no connection
with the ongoing Blasphemy controversy, including search engine
"What is the point of banning Facebook, Youtube
and Flickr and other websites? We are against events and websites which
incite violence and hatred. But instead of banning websites, the
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority could have had simply blocked the
offensive webpage," they argued.
They added that a number of
small businesses, nonprofit organisations, media outlets use Facebook
to conduct their everyday business. "All these businesses have now come
to a standstill.
The action is having a negative impact on the
country by infringing upon our civil liberties," they said, adding that
they would appeal against the decision after May 31 if the websites
However, the nature of the message being
given during the press conference was apparently misconstrued – with
While the aforementioned press
conference was being held inside the KPC, outside assembled protestors
belonging to a religious group, the Tehreek Ahle-Hadith, to condemn
The activists caught wind of the press conference
inside the KPC, and turned violent. Verbal threats and heavy abuse
turned into a physical attack on one of the civil society activists by
the religious group. Some journalists present on the spot intervened
and stymied an attempt to lynch the man by the enraged activists of the
religious party, who then laid siege to the premises of the KPC –
demanding that he be handed over to them.
The police arrived on
the spot to control the situation – after which the civil society
activists, including Sabeen Mahmud, director of Peace Niche, and
bloggers Awab Alvi and Zaheer Kidvai, were whisked away.
Awab Alvi, who was attacked by the religious party's activists, said:
"Just like the others, I am totally against the offensive webpage and
condemn the event. However, [they] misunderstood my statement. I feel
that PTA should have blocked the webpage and not the entire website."
different religious parties, including the Tehreek-e-Ahle Sunnat
Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehreek Ahle Hadith and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan,
held protests for a second consecutive day in different parts of the
city to condemn the blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet (PBUH), and
supported the government's move to ban Facebook.
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Ban on Facebook lauded
Lahore: A majority of the Facebook crazy youngsters hailed the
government's decision of banning the website on Wednesday evening and
criticised the website's administrators for not stopping the discussion
page containing blasphemous caricatures of Holy Prophet (PBUH) despite
a huge number of votes.
Facebook can be termed one of the most
visited websites in Pakistan and having an account on www.facebook.com
is considered a mandatory thing for an internet user in the country,
especially in big cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.
to different web surveys, Facebook has grabbed 44 percent total share
of the social networking websites while the share of Twitter, Yahoo and
MySpace is (29pc, 18pc and 9pc respectively. Recently, Google has also
launched its social networking service with the name of BUZZ, while its
earlier social networking site www.Orkut.com was overtaken by Facebook.
a young teacher, said she was a daily user of Facebook and considered
social networking a good time pass. She said people shared their views
and comments with each other but no one had the right to defame the
holy personalities of any religion.
"The government's move to
block Facebook for allowing blasphemous caricatures of Holy Prophet
(PBUH) but then it's useless that we unblock the site for people's
entertainment later on," she commented.
She said now when the
government had been officially protesting, it should demand
cancellation of the contest and put the condition that only then such a
social network would be allowed.
Hassan, a student of the Punjab
University, said social networking did not mean defaming other's
religions. He said the government should ban all other such sites which
were allowing the same contest to go on.
He said while
searching on internet one could find many such sites where this
specific contest was being held.Muzamil Arshad, a resident of
Samanabad, said the government should block all the proxy servers
because people might use facebook through them.
"We love our
Prophet (SAW) and will not tolerate any kind of defamation attempt
against him as well as against our religion," he said, adding that he
and his friends had decided not to join Facebook again.
views were expressed by a large number of students and other people in
telephonic survey conducted by The News. Majority of them have demanded
the government as well as the judiciary to permanently ban the Facebook
in the country so that no other social networking site could dare allow
such blasphemy in future.
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Leading varsities students hold protest demo against Facebook
Lahore: Dozens of students from leading universities and higher
education institutes staged a protest demonstration on Thursday,
strongly condemning the competition of blasphemous cartoons on
The demo, organized by the Students Action Committee
(SAC) at Liberty Chowk, was attended by students of Lahore University
of Management Sciences (LUMS), FC College University, Lahore Schools of
Economics (LSE), Punjab University, etc.
The students were
carrying placards inscribed with slogans against anti-Islamic forces
and demanding the Muslim countries around the world to ban the
Facebook. They also appealed to Muslims in Europe and the US to stop
using the website as a mark of complete unity and solidarity over the
A large number of commuters and traders of the area also
expressed solidarity with the protesting students, becoming part of the
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IIU students protest against Facebook
Islamabad: Students of the International Islamic University (IIU)
took out a protest rally from their campus to Police Lines Chowk here
on Thursday against a competition of blasphemous caricatures on social
networking website, Facebook.
According to details, different
students organisations took out a protest rally from Activity Centre of
the IIU to Police Lines Chowk and urged on the incumbent leadership of
the country to take stringent action against those involved in the
heinous crime for hurting the religious sentiments of millions of
Muslims all over the world.
Student leaders termed publishing of
caricatures on Facebook website as an international conspiracy to
agitate the Muslim World and dishonouring the religious sentiments of
They also urged on the incumbent leadership of the
country and Muslim Ummah to get united against the Jewish conspiracies
and to boycott the countries accomplice in practice of blasphemous
caricatures including Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Agitated students of
IIU also chanted slogans against responsible countries and blocked road
near Police Lines Chowk for an hour. The news
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