Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube... what next?

Published: May 20, 2010
YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia have been blocked for a majority of Pakistanis.

YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia have been blocked for a majority of Pakistanis.

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has so far blocked more than 450 links to derogatory material in Pakistan on the Internet, a statement issued by the PTA on Thursday said.

“PTA has directed all concerned operators to shut down website in view of growing sacrilegious contents on it,” the statement read.

The government regulatory body called on Facebook and YouTube to get in contact to resolve the matter at the earliest opportunity in a manner that  “ensures religious harmony and respect”.

Many internet users in Pakistan have been faced with an “Access Denied” message when trying to access Wikipedia, and other popular websites.

Protesters take to the streets:

Dozens of members of the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, protested in Islamabad for a second day running, calling for a permanent boycott of Facebook and supporting a government ban of the website. The protestors originally planned to march on the US embassy, but riot police armed with shields and batons prevented the crowd from moving towards the heavily guarded diplomatic enclave and they dispersed.

Several hundred students also demonstrated in the central city of Multan,  where they set alight a US flag and temporarily blocked a road, calling for a blanket ban on Facebook before dispersing peacefully.

Social and religious organisations, students, journalists and NGOs in Sialkot also announced to observe Friday as a Protest Day against Facebook for publishing blasphemous caricatures against the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

They also called for protest rallies to be held in various parts of the city, seeking a permanent ban on Facebook in Pakistan by the government.

Protests have been taking place across the country to condemn the hosting of offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on Facebook. To view pictures of the anti-Facebook protests, click here.

Pakistan condemns caricatures on Facebook:

Pakistan on Thursday “strongly condemned” the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) that appeared on the popular social networking website Facebook as insulting to Muslims worldwide.

“We strongly condemn the publication of caricatures on Facebook. It has hurt sentiments of Muslims all over the world,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly press briefing in the capital Islamabad.

“Such acts are not helpful in promoting interfaith harmony in the world. We have opposed such acts in the past and we will continue to oppose and raise our voice in future also,” he said.

Views in Pakistan:
Asim Malik, 40, who works for a local human rights organisation, called on Facebook to respect religion and steer clear of controversies which can be exploited by radicals. “I think this was the best step to block it. These sort of things create people like Faisal Shahzad. You see that a liberal man like him was forced to become an extremist,” Malik said.

Wahaj us Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) and also CEO of Nayatel, a leading service provider, that blocking Facebook and YouTube would slash up to a quarter of all Internet traffic in Pakistan.

“These two sites take 20 to 25 percent of the country’s total Internet traffic so we are seeing a drop in Internet traffic,” he said.

Twitter uproar:

Pakistani internet users are using the popular micro-blogging network Twitter as a platform to discuss the latest on the current internet controversy that has taken the country by storm. Twitter users have developed a new hash tag “#FbPKBan” to collect all discussion about the authorities latest website blocking spree.

Here is a collection of some tweets by Twitter users on the debate:

@adamdawood I think our ties with China are getting far too close!#FbPKBan

@shariquess welcome back to Zia era, in case you forgot.. block, censor, ban.. #FbPKBan

@uzairaon Does freedom of expression mean to hurt some1’s sentiments and feelings… #FBPKBAN

@ShuaibKhan NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Where is my Internet!!!!!!!!!???????????????????????????????? #FBPKBan

@DeuceExMachina What #Pakistan needs now, is a Tehran-style Twitter-Jihad for free speech #FbPkBan

@mu_abdullah @DrAwab I be with you! No bans. We are conscious beings. Can’t restrict us. They don’t have the right. #FbPkBan

@hushamahmed This is getting more insane with every passing minute. Anyone planning to file a lawsuit? #FbPkBan

@huzaifahm #fbpkban gmail is next in line

@abhishekmadan Pak banning FB is obviously a US ploy.They want to track Osama. If there’s no recent activity on his profile, they know he’s in Pak.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (35)

  • James
    May 20, 2010 - 3:46PM

    no comments :(( Recommend

  • Sachal
    May 20, 2010 - 3:50PM

    Wow, I’d really like to meet this Asim Malik guy. Facebook makes terrorists? I’m surprised you carried his views. What of the 2001 attacks? There was no facebook then, Hotmail maybe?Recommend

  • uzairaon
    May 20, 2010 - 3:52PM

    What the hell..!!??? Why are my comments shown as if I am against the Ban… I am totally in favour of it!!! Facebook has double standards…Recommend

  • naureen
    May 20, 2010 - 3:55PM

    seriously whats going on.. this is crazy blocking sites wat will they achieve this way … Recommend

    May 20, 2010 - 3:56PM


  • @SUNNY
    May 20, 2010 - 4:00PM

    pak salute 2 u pak that u block facebook>< Recommend

  • Sachal
    May 20, 2010 - 4:05PM

    @Sachal: In 2001 it was Friendster that drove people to terrorism (although that might have been over the user interface).Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    May 20, 2010 - 4:12PM

    The question is not that who make terrorists there are many reasons behind it for exp some countries need oil,land,more power etc etc.
    Why facebook and euro news papers hurt muslims.Its our religion why you make pictures and make comments why is it joke for you or you think that muslims are fool
    Is your parents teach you that hurt other people
    i believe no human can do that.Recommend

  • adnan ali
    May 20, 2010 - 4:14PM

    “I think this was the best step to block it,” . “These sort of things create people like Faisal Shahzad. You see that a liberal man like him was forced to become an extremist, i salute to Chief Justis Lahore high court..this Facebook site to respect religion and steer clear of controversies which can be exploited by radicals.Recommend

  • adnan ali
    May 20, 2010 - 4:19PM

    Lahore High court Zindabad Pakistan Hamesa PaiindaBaad…..Recommend

  • naureen
    May 20, 2010 - 4:20PM

    if a website is capable of creating a terrorist than seriously you are simply not mature enough to go out in world, i mean Allah gave you mind, someone tries to provoke you and that’s exactly what they get, grow up.
    @shariquess: i completely agree are we living in zia era again cant we decide wat we want to c and wat we don’t,, come on its like parents putting child lock on tv channels.Recommend

  • Dr. Mubashir
    May 20, 2010 - 4:22PM

    It is like creating a Militia in US to fight Cuba. Then desert them after achieving target. When they gain strength, label them as terrorists and accuse Christianity of promoting Terrorism!

    What happened to the Civilized world?Recommend

  • e.
    May 20, 2010 - 4:32PM

    we live in a country where majority of the people don’t have access to basic healthcare, education or even the three meals a day, and what’s making waves is an immature facebook page, created by some attention starved white person?? im amazed at the kind of a society we live in…Recommend

  • Afan
    May 20, 2010 - 4:38PM

    Youtube, wikipedia, and Facebook. They have gone insane. Lets ban the internet while we are at it.

    The actions by the drawing competition crowd are beyond despicable. But the banning action only hurts Pakistani users and gets those people a LOT of free publicity. Is this what we want?Recommend

  • Ali
    May 20, 2010 - 4:54PM

    totally insane, ridiculous and whatnot, what are they planning on achieving by banning youtube, wikipedia, facebook. even though im not a user of either of the above mentioned websites, i still feel that banning them in Pakistan really wont achieve anything or harm them in anyway, as the content in issue shall and will always remain. the most pragmatic thing would be to avoid the content as simple as that.Recommend

  • Atiq Rehman
    May 20, 2010 - 4:54PM

    You can probably find more blasphemy by searching on google, yahoo and bing, so I assume they would be willing to block those to. Funny thing is, no one’s bothered to block hundreds of websites that are dedicated to blasphemy or contain explicit content. Get educated, work hard, work honestly, become rich, get power, gain respect and the world will listen to your wishes. Till then we can burn tyres and pollute our own atmosphere or break a few cars of fellow muslims, no one really gives two cents about our feelings and our false sense of pride and honour.Recommend

  • Ateeq
    May 20, 2010 - 4:57PM

    Hurray….Bravo…..PAKISAN Govt. news of FB ban in Pakistan has made great impact on Internet world and this was the best way to protest against such activities.Recommend

  • asfundyarkhan
    May 20, 2010 - 5:25PM

    pakistan has done a very effective protestRecommend

  • Sam
    May 20, 2010 - 5:33PM

    I like the picture in this post a lot. Can i use it on my site please ?Recommend

  • jahanzaib.haque
    May 20, 2010 - 5:46PM

    @Sam as long as you accredit it to The Express Tribune, sure. (Web Editor)Recommend

  • langau
    May 20, 2010 - 6:39PM

    i think its not a very good decision because you can see share your religious feelings in these sites, and facebook didnt done those things itself, their r some people who r doing such things so, what i mean is that they should get to know that who r doing such things in these sites and then do something against them,…Recommend

  • Aamish
    May 20, 2010 - 6:40PM

    Facebook should be permanently ban in all Muslim countries till the admins of fb block all pages/groups/events that are attacking Islam/Muslims by any means!!Recommend

  • May 20, 2010 - 6:41PM

    folks. Ban has increased membership in “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” from 20,000 yesterday to 65,000+ noRecommend

    May 20, 2010 - 7:41PM

    “I think this was the best step to block THANK U PAKISTANRecommend

  • Naseer khan
    May 20, 2010 - 7:59PM

    the govt has taken a good step to ban facebook because this site hurt the feelings of muslims,but now that site has been hacked by turkish computer programmars,i think we must establish small org of programmars to hack these kinds of sites which are playing with muslims feelings.
    hats off to high court and turkish programmars Recommend

  • May 20, 2010 - 10:19PM

    Dear Peoples this thing is not only for pakistanis this thing for all muslims so please do protest against youtube and facebook and so anything like this i need all peoples coperate whoz are muslim or not but non muslim u should respect our religion.becoz we give respect to all religions.

    Thanks and best regards,


  • Saleem
    May 20, 2010 - 10:53PM

    Hahahaha thank God for this ban! The nation will finally do something productive now! I seriously think the whole electricity crisis is because the WAPDA people are too busy with farmville (no more excuses now boys!!!)Recommend

  • May 21, 2010 - 12:03AM

    assalamoalaikum! so when is it that all porn sites will be blocked??? when the entire generation will be ruined??? im so missing the 10+ Islamic groups that im a member of on fb!!! the daily quizzes, reminders and articles!Recommend

  • sikandar
    May 21, 2010 - 12:29AM

    why pta hasent banned all the porn sites and indian channels in decades !
    is there a logical answer for that !Recommend

  • Dee Jay
    May 21, 2010 - 10:58AM

    Controversy facts:

    Facebook has 400 million users. Only 2 million are from Pakistan. That is 0.5% of the total Facebook audience.
    The offending Facebook page that the Pakistan government banned had about 30,000 members 3 days before May 20.
    Following the complete ban of Facebook in Pakistan, the offending page has 80,000 members and growing as of Thursday evening.

  • Dee Jay
    May 21, 2010 - 11:05AM

    @ Saleem if your spend so much time on Farmville, doesnt mean everybody on FB is doing this. A lot of people have alot of decent stuff goin on FB too. U can share amazing islamic info, and many islamic pages and groups are there. Sending haidth and verses on daily basis and all. And its a nice platform where muslims who are member of islamic pages can share views and info.

    Just because a few stupid did something silly, can not make a whole nation hostage. Arent we educated enough to face them and answer them in the same tone?

    We gave an uplift to their so called “Draw Day…” by banning Pakistani’s muslim community from expressing their anger and views. U know pakistani muslims are one of the biggest to protest this group. And by keeping them away, we have those morons a safe and open ground to play what ever they wanted to.

    Sometimes, what suit us on domestic level, can cause great damges to our vision on global level. Our anger expression on local websites is of no use brother. We need the same plat form to strike them back right on their face, by making completely opposite pages. And show our love for Islam and our Prophet (P.B.U.H) even far more than before. To show them that these kind of silly pages will not demotivate us. Instead of turning a blind eye to issue, we would have had guts to face it.Recommend

  • May 21, 2010 - 2:36PM

    We have to keep protesting about such disgusting acts but rationale also matters.

    Read for full articleRecommend

  • Sana N
    May 21, 2010 - 2:46PM

    Twitter, 450 sites more and counting, when will we come out of these dark ages? This is not a religious issue, its an issue about our rights to condemn, ignore and boycott what WE want to not what we’re forced to!Recommend

  • May 21, 2010 - 2:50PM

    Saleem said, Hahahaha thank God for this ban! The nation will finally do something productive now

    Dear Saleem….

    If facebook doesnt let people do productive work then how come USA does? USA has the the largest population on facebook still they’re doing productive work. HOW?Recommend

  • May 21, 2010 - 6:28PM

    Thank you for the shout out. Viva La TwiRevolución!Recommend

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