Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pakistan Blocks Access to YouTube, Facebook

Pakistan's government has blocked access to the video website YouTube because of what it called the growth of "blasphemous content." The move comes just one day after authorities censored the popular online social networking website, Facebook, for similar reasons.

On Wednesday, a Pakistani court ordered Internet providers to block Facebook until May 31 because of a controversial page that encourages users to draw the Prophet Muhammad.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit condemned the drawings of the Prophet as "blasphemous," and described the Facebook page as a "malicious and insulting" attack that hurt Muslims around the world.

A statement from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) urges representatives from the two websites to contact the Pakistani government to resolve the dispute in a way that "ensures religious harmony and respect."

The PTA said it has so far blocked 450 links to so-called derogatory material on the Internet.

The Facebook page "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" encourages users to draw the Prophet Muhammad on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group toward the creators of "South Park," a satirical U.S. cartoon television show. The group threatened the show for depicting Muhammad in a bear costume in an episode earlier this year.

Most Muslims consider any images made of the prophet to be blasphemous.

On the Facebook information page for the contest, organizers wrote "we are not trying to slander the average Muslim." They added they want to show extremists who threaten to harm people because of their Muhammad depictions "that we are not afraid of them" and "they can't take away our right to freedom of speech."

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