KARACHI: Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube in a bid to contain blasphemous material, officials said on Thursday.
There are reports that another popular photo sharing website, Flickr.com has been blocked. Internet users across the country have also reported being unable to access the English section of popular internet encyclopedia website, Wikipedia.
This comes in the backdrop of a PTA ban on the popular social networking website Facebook after a controversy surrounding the website hosting an event promoting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
PTA blocked access to Facebook on a court order over a competition created by a Facebook user who set up a page called "Draw Mohammed Day," inviting people to send in caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on May 20. Protests have been taking place across the country against Facebook’s failure to remove the offensive page off the social network.
Pakistani bloggers on the micro-blogging website Twitter are in an uproar on what they claim to be a ban on Wikipedia, the popular internet encyclopedia website, and video hosting website YouTube.
Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider, said PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an "immediate" blockade of YouTube.
"It was a serious instruction as they wanted us to do it quickly and let them know after that," he told Reuters.
YouTube was also blocked in the country in 2007 for about a year for what it called un-Islamic videos.
A PTA official, who declined to be identified, said the action was taken after the authority determined that some caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were transferred from Facebook to YouTube.
Siraj said the blocking of the two websites would cut up to 25 per cent of total Internet traffic in Pakistan.
"It'll have an impact on the overall Internet traffic as they eat up 20 to 25 per cent of the country's total 65 giga-bytes traffic," he said.
Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries. Around 50 people were killed during violent protests in Muslim countries in 2006 over the cartoons, five of them in Pakistan.
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