YouTube ban lifted in Pakistan
YouTube ban lifted
Islamabad, May 27: The Ministry of Information on Wednesday lifted the ban on
popular video sharing website YouTube after banning it in the wake of
public outrage over "blasphemous" content. "YouTube has been unblocked,
but the links to sacrilegious content would remain inaccessible in
Pakistan," Khurram Mehran of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
(PTA) told AFP. Earlier, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Pakistan
was to lift a ban on Facebook in the next few days. The PTA banned
access to Facebook and YouTube and other links, and restricted access
to Wikipedia, last week over what it called "growing sacrilegious
content". Daily times
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Facebook protests fuel American flag business
Karachi: In a row about Facebook, censorship and religious
sacrilege means booming demand for replica American and Israeli flags
to go up in flames at protest rallies across the country.
one thing for 31-year-old Mamoon ur Rasheed - business - and he is
working long into the night to churn out the paraphernalia beloved of
activists taking to the streets.
"I have nothing to do with any
political party, but it is really enjoyable when you see your work on
TV screens," a laughing Rasheed said.
"I'm busy every day making
banners and placards for different religious and political parties, but
work gets a boost - especially when international controversy
concerning Muslims breaks out," he said.
Several thousand Pakistanis
have taken to the streets at the behest of right-wing religious groups,
who turn to Rasheed when they need flags to burn and banners to write.
we receive orders for banners for a couple of demonstrations a day, but
due to the blasphemous drawings issue, the number of orders for flags
and banners has increased by 10 to 12 per day," said Rasheed.
are made for burning. They symbolise what our clients want to express
and we are paid for it, so I'm happy to see our work go up in flames."
Rasheed owns a workshop where he employs four craftsmen to paint flags and write calligraphy, and a small printing press.
have received continuous orders for American and Israeli flags.
Normally we paint them but when demand surges into the hundreds we
print these flags to get them to our clients in time," he said.
In the wake of the blasphemous drawings contest, Pakistan blocked
hundreds of web pages to limit access to the profane material, banning
access to US-based Facebook and YouTube - the two most popular websites
in the country. The Lahore High Court ordered the block on Facebook
until at least May 31, when it is scheduled to hear a petition from
Rasheed runs his business on times of stress. Different
periods mean demand for the flags of India, Norway and Sweden and
Whenever elections approach or protests start, wholesalers
stock huge quantities of cheap cloth and reap handsome rewards. "We are
getting bigger orders from scores of painters and printers nowadays,"
cloth merchant Mohammad Siddique said.
"Pakistan is the country of
protests and for this Karachi is undoubtedly its capital and our
business gets a boost in such circumstances," Siddique said.
Ahmed, owner of a printing press in Karachi's southern neighbourhood
Pakistan Chowk, says orders are flooding in for posters, pamphlets and
placards, temporarily overtaking his main business in books and wedding
"I get orders for pamphlets and posters in the event of
controversies or elections," Waqar says. May 15, when Palestinians
marked Naqba day - the catastrophe of Israel's creation in 1948 - is
"I got some orders to print flags of Israel and
United States - 100 a piece - during Naqba rallies. We have also sold
some American and Swedish flags during the protests against Facebook,"
Ahmed said. Afp
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Ban on Facebook drives Malik to Twitter
Islamabad: After Pakistan banned Facebook in a bid to stop it hosting
blasphemous pictures, the interior minister found a new way to get his
online fix. He jumped on Twitter. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said
his son told him that if he couldn't get on Facebook, where he has his
own page which hosts pictures of dignitaries and has 691 fans, he
"Only a few days back I came in (as a Twitter
user). I like it," Malik told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
"There are lot of questions, are you real, are you fake?" Malik already
has more than 270 followers, according to his page, far less than the
"countless" ones he said he had after only a few days. Many people
writing to him question if indeed the account is real (it is) or
complain that he should be governing instead of tweeting. Malik's
tweets give no hint the digital hecklers bother him. He calls for unity
in the face of violence in Karachi and comments on how nice it is to
meet so many women parliamentarians from around Asia. He also freely
engages with his followers, an unusual practice in Pakistan's
stratified political culture. "Thank you for your appreciation," Malik
wrote to one well-wisher. "I will hunt the terrorists to their demise."
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It's been a week since the Lahore High Court banned Facebook. I am
still trying to figure out the logic behind this ban. As a Muslim, I
am, without a doubt, deeply offended by the campaign against the
Prophet (PBUH) on Facebook. But, is banning Facebook really the answer?
Not only have we caused a stir among the people of our nation but we
have also confirmed the west's opinion about Muslims. We have, yet
again, managed to make an international spectacle of ourselves. All
this, and the group on Facebook still hasn't been deleted. I just have
one question to ask the people who were so quick to protest against
something that could have been handled in a more effective and peaceful
manner. Where were these protests when innocent people in Gojra were
being killed in the name of religion? Why didn't these champions of
Islam raise their voice when a video of a young girl being flogged in
Swat was released?
If these people claim to be the followers
of the Prophet (PBUH) then I would request them to follow the example
set by him. It is because of his teaching that Islam is known as the
religion of peace and tolerance. Protesting against whatever is popular
in the world does not make a good Muslim. One can't pick and choose
some tenets of Islam to follow and the rest to ignore. Religion doesn't
work that way. If you protest against the pictures of the Prophet
(PBUH) because they are blasphemous then do it in a manner that God
would approve of, and not by rioting and making death threats to the
administrator of the group. Maham Ali - Bahria University, Islamabad
The ban on Facebook and restriction on YouTube, Wikipedia and Twitter are
disturbing. These websites have provided a valuable platform in the
past to dissenting voices, especially during the lawyers' movement.
These websites brought into the limelight the issues that might
otherwise have gone unnoticed. Does anyone remember the videos posted
on YouTube showing rigging in Karachi's polling stations during the
2008 elections? These websites are a valuable source of information.
People voice their protest and organise through them. That it is so
easy for the authorities to ban these websites and trample over our
right to free speech is a threat to democracy.
The ban on
Facebook has set a dangerous precedent. It is sad how blasphemy laws
and public sentiment could be interpreted. Imagine if the competition
for blasphemous cartoons on Facebook had coincided with the
anti-dictatorship movement of 2007. What would stop the authorities
from banning the internet altogether claiming that it contained
blasphemous material? If freedom of speech is used by anti-Islam
elements, we should also use freedom of speech against them as a
powerful weapon. Undermining ourselves by doing away with modern tools
of engagement will not solve any problem. It is time we learned the
value of our right to free speech. It is a lesson we should have
learned when Musharraf banned news channels. We demand that free speech
should be protected fully and effectively. It is a right that no one
should have the power to violate. Wahee Saajid, Islamabad
I absolutely agree with the Lahore High Court's decision to ban Facebook
in Pakistan because only this will ensure the international media's
coverage about the countrywide protests against blasphemous cartoons.
As we have seen in the past, blasphemy against holy figures has been
done on a regular basis. But no action was ever taken against the
elements behind this offence. I hope that after this ban at least
Facebook administrators won't allow such blasphemous material on their
website. Afzal Khan, Lahore
It was a right decision to block Facebook in Pakistan. Muslims can never
tolerate blasphemy. I suggest that Facebook should be banned
permanently because it is nothing but a waste of time. Students sit in
front of computer for hours surfing Facebook while their parents think
that they are doing some research work. Maryam Munir, Lahore
I find it difficult to grasp that while our government can ban Facebook
with such ease, it condones other actions which are committed by us
Muslims. I read news reports of murders almost every day. Also, the
targeted killings are a matter of routine now. The government should
look into these matters as well. Why is all the focus on Facebook alone? - Ibrahim Rizwan, Karachi.
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Facebook to simplify privacy controls
New york: Facebook is simplifying its privacy controls.
changes come amid complaints about recently announced features,
including "instant personalization" that tailors other websites to
users' Facebook profiles. Protesters have been organizing campaigns to
quit Facebook and privacy groups have complained to regulators. One
complaint has been over the fact that while Facebook allows users to
hide their list of interests on their personal profile pages, the user
would still show up elsewhere as "liking" that band, company or hobby.
The new privacy settings will be extending to those other places as
well. In a news conference Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said
the company is also making it easier for users to decline the instant
personalization feature. It's not yet clear whether the latest changes
will quell user unease.
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GSIS students protest against Facebook
Islamabad: Teenage students of Global System of Integrated
Studies (GSIS), wearing angry looks on their faces and chanting heated
slogans, protested against the Facebook blasphemy here on Wednesday,
says a press release.
Slogans like 'Stop stop blasphemy; crush
crush Facebook' and 'Quit quit Facebook' could be heard, as the
students emerged from the school's main gate that faces Pitrus Bukhari
Road and came to a short halt by the roadside.
All boys and
girls were holding placards, displaying their hurt sentiments, coupled
with appeals to the 'civilised world', especially the UN, to ban the
'blasphemous' Facebook. One such placard read, "V Respect Others'
Religion; Why Don't They Too?"
The GSIS youngsters demanded the
issue to be dealt with sternly, so that no one dares commit such a
nasty thing again in future. "Every Muslim condemns this act, and we
appeal to the whole Muslim Ummah to stay off Facebook in future. The news
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