Religion in Society

Pakistani Judge Orders Facebook Blocked

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A judge in Pakistan has ordered access to Facebook temporarily blocked in the mostly Muslim nation because of a competition on the site featuring caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The ruling is in response to a petition filed by a lawyers' group that called the contest "blasphemous."

The Internet is uncensored in Pakistan, but the government monitors content by routing all traffic through a central exchange. Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry ordered the department of communications to block the web site until May 31st, and to submit a written reply to the petition by that date.

The lawyers' group says Pakistan's laws do not allow activities that are "un-Islamic" or "blasphemous." In the past, Pakistan has often blocked access to pornographic sites and sites with anti-Islamic content.

The competition, called "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" encourages people to exercise their free speech and draw pictures of the Muslim prophet.

A message on the competition's information page said it was not "trying to slander the average Muslim. We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Muhammad depictions that we're not afraid of them. They can't take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us into silence."

Pakistani media says there have already been protests against Facebook outside parliament in Islamabad, and that other groups are organizing demonstrations.