Pakistan bans Facebook over Prophet page

Pakistan pulled the plug on Facebook Wednesday, angered by its hosting of a “blasphemous” competition to draw the best portrait of the Prophet Mohamed. Within hours of the ruling from the High Court in Lahore, attempts to update statuses and upload photographs failed across the country as internet service providers hastened into compliance. Most browser screens perfunctorily informed users that they were “unable to find” the website; others were more specific, citing the court ruling and adding that “access would remain blocked till 31 May 2010 or further orders”. At the heart of the controversial shutdown is the “Everybody Draw Mohamed Day!” page. Organisers were asking people to draw their image of Mohamed – an online response to violent threats made against a Danish newspaper that published caricatures of Islam’s Prophet in 2006 and more recently against the creators of South Park over their depiction of the Prophet in a bear suit. The government did not oppose the court ruling. Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs, said that the ban was temporary. It is set to be lifted at the end of the month. The minister also floated the idea of a conference of Muslim countries to resolve how to prevent future publication of the “offensive” cartoons.


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