LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday ordered the ministry of information technology to block access to all websites spreading religious hatred.
Justice Azmat Saeed, however, made it clear that no search engine, including Google, would be blocked. The court also directed the ministry to submit a compliance report in this regard by October 6.
The court issued the order after hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on the American social networking website Facebook for allegedly hosting a competition featuring blasphemous caricatures.
Muhammad & Ahmad, a public interest litigation firm, filed the petition on behalf of Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique.
The petitioner said that Islamic values were being derogated in the name of freedom of information and consequently hurting the feelings of millions of Muslims. He added that despite the order of the court, the information technology ministry did not block websites spreading religious hatred. The petitioner requested that Facebook and all similar websites be permanently blocked in Pakistan for airing, placing, visualising blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
He submitted that in light of the competition, SHO Civil Lines Police Station should be directed to register a criminal case under Section 295-C and other relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code against the perpetrators. The petitioner added that the government should be directed to establish a permanent authority, having a legal status, which would monitor such objectionable activities across the world, to avoid the desecration of Islam.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2011.
Correction: The caption of this post earlier misstated the number of Facebook users in Pakistan. The correction has been made.