LHC directs federal govt to block blasphemous material on Google, YouTube

Published: October 18, 2012
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Orders issued during proceeding on petition filed by JI leaders seeking a ban on blasphemous material on the Internet. PHOTO: FILE

Orders issued during proceeding on petition filed by JI leaders seeking a ban on blasphemous material on the Internet. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has directed the federal government to block all blasphemous material on Google and YouTube.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan issued this order on Thursday, also directing the federal government to file its reply by November 8.

The judge was conducting proceedings on a petition filed by Jamaat-i-Islami leaders seeking a ban on blasphemous material on the Internet. The petition was filed by Liaqat Baloch and Farid Ahmed Paracha of the JI.

Hafiz Saeed petition

Meanwhile, on a petition filed by Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed for directions to the federal government to move the International Court of Justice against the makers of an anti-Islam movie, the Lahore High Court issued notice to the federal government to reply within three weeks.

Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri admitted the petition for regular hearing. Advocate AK Dogar, counsel for the petitioners, submitted that US President Barack Obama had in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly condemned the anti-Islam movie, but also defended the US constitutional protection for freedom of expression.

The petitioner said that mere denial of the Holocaust was a crime in many Western countries. For example, German author Ernst Zundel had spent seven years behind bars for expressing contrary views about the Holocaust.

He said that Pakistan’s foreign policy needs to be restructured and in the light of Article 40 of the Constitution, which envisages Pakistan strengthening ties with the Muslim world and promoting international peace.

Saeed said that “the relationship of absolute servility” between Pakistan and the US should be declared contrary to the fundamental right to dignity enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. He said the government should be directed to initiate proceedings in the International Court of Justice against the makers of the anti-Islam movie for violating Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The film makers should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article had incorrectly stated that the LHC had directed the federal government to move the ICJ. The correction has been made.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Much Amused
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:15PM

    LHC should have more sense than for asking for blockages; which cant be done as there are many ways to bypass any blocks the Pakistani authorities may put.

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  • zabdesk
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:24PM

    Whether GoP is capable of doing that. I am of the opinion that it cannot do it due to lack of expertise. So the orders cannot be implemented, and there will be a contempt of court case be filed in the court after some time and then long legal war. The court should not issue orders which cannot be implemented, and these orders can only be implemented if and only if internet is completely banned in Pakistan. Whethetr Court is ready to do that. Kindly go through the details of “Great Fire Wall of China” and you will find that even China is not capable to completely ban items whic she wants to ban despite all its technology dedicated efforts. Cha Piddi Cha Piddi Ka Shorba.

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  • Jibran
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:37PM

    What a waste of time and resources! The superior judges were supposed to be learned, but Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry has accumulated mediocre,narrow minded, and know-nothing-about-the-world kind of people like himself. And this is hurting Pakistan. I simply couldn’t believe how the LHC would admit the petition? Does it have universal jurisdiction?Recommend

  • Oct 18, 2012 - 5:47PM

    I hope China helps out Pakistan in this regard. Facebook, Youtube and Google are completely inaccessible to 1/5th of the Humanity.

    Pakistan is an Islamic country and as per its constitution should not encourage any medium which is against islam and criticises it; even if it goes against modernity. Well, Islam is modernity personified isn’t it, so even that point goes away.

    Anyway, I want my neighbours to do what is right.

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  • Oct 18, 2012 - 5:50PM

    I thought youtube was already banned in pak, atleast it doest work on my pc judge saaab

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  • Aijaz Haider
    Oct 18, 2012 - 5:53PM

    1.”Justice Ijazula Ahsan, issuing the first order, also directed the federal government to file its reply by September 8; the next date of hearing.” September 8? 2013? ET please clarify.
    2.”Congratulations Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leaders and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saaed.
    3.Yes the profane movie makers must be prosecuted and convicted for a crime against humanity.
    4.Well done LHC!
    5.@”Much Amused” what more can LHC do?
    Regards.

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  • bob
    Oct 18, 2012 - 6:01PM

    Is Islam so insecure it can’t stand criticism? What’s wrong with free inquiry? How do you know Islam is true if you can’t examine what we non-believers say about it, INCLUDING ‘blasphemy’? Islam is looked at by many (including me) as a regressive religion PRECISELY because it represses freedom of inquiry (how many Muslims would allow the Quran to be examined as just another book, subject to historical analysis?). You’re doing yourselves no favors by building walls around Islam.

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  • zabdesk
    Oct 18, 2012 - 6:02PM

    @Amitabh Bachchan:
    I think you are also living in stone age of internet. Open up your eyes and look around you will find a lot of ways to access these sites.

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  • smj
    Oct 18, 2012 - 6:08PM

    O jee, let’s ban electricity rather these websites.

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  • Romo
    Oct 18, 2012 - 6:49PM

    Blasphemy laws are some of the most retrograde laws on the books. Blasphemy is really an imaginary crime devoid of substance; the offense is in the eye of the beholder. Blasphemy does not hurt anyone physically. The worst thing is that the main protagonist that the law is dedicated to might be imaginary as well.

    @Bob: Well stated, my friend.

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  • Uza Syed
    Oct 18, 2012 - 6:50PM

    Talibans could NOT do better! —– Welcome back to the times when we were still monkeys!

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  • Sohail Khurshid
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:03PM

    Country of the Apes

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  • Aijaz Haider
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:21PM

    @bob: “Is Islam so insecure it can’t stand criticism?” Not at all. “What’s wrong with free inquiry?” Nothing. “How do you know Islam is true if you can’t examine what we non-believers say about it, INCLUDING ‘blasphemy’?” ‘Blasphemy’ is not criticism or inquiry; it is abusive. “Islam is looked at by many (including me) as a regressive religion PRECISELY because it represses freedom of inquiry (how many Muslims would allow the Quran to be examined as just another book, subject to historical analysis?).” I allow you to examine the Quran as just another book, subject to historical analysis. “You’re doing yourselves no favors by building walls around Islam.” Nobody can build walls around Islam; go to your local bookstore and get a copy of the Holy Quran.
    Regards.

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  • mastmulla
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:27PM

    We should block all search engines that way no one will be able to search for blasphemous material.

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  • Tausif
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:41PM

    In addition to the blasphemous materials in the YouTube, there exist a lots of pedagogical clips which impart valuable knowledge about Islam. The honorable jurists should have understood it and for the sake of those clips YouTube should have been allowed to be unblocked both in Pakistan and in my country Bangladesh! The stature of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is so vast that no defaming video clip can reduce it. Instead of blocking it we the Muslims should have used YouTube for spreading the actual knowledge about Islam. Recommend

  • Lofty
    Oct 18, 2012 - 7:49PM

    Silly order. You don’t like Youtube? Don’t watch it.

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  • Muhammad Imran Qureshi
    Oct 18, 2012 - 8:52PM

    Gud. it is once again truly unwise and wrong decision at the wrong time. This is very much easy to close all the stuff available on the internet declaring that “blasphemous stuff should be banned” despite of facing its depth. We are putting our steps in the highly critical arena where we face many critical blows regarding Islam; we meet people who sometime talk opposite of Islam, in case of that we should close our eyes? close our ears? not to talk to S/he for ever????. According to me this would be a bluff being a true muslim. There are a number of challenges we have to face for the survival of being a muslim. Banning blasphemous stuff over the internet is the ultimately wise decision. Sorry to say; even our Supreme Court can not take some radical steps to end up the internal religious conflicts in the country; and still we have been bifurcated in different sects… what is that ??? can any of you define this? never; coz all the government does not want to resolve this issue. How easy to print a STATEMENT in the media for getting some kind of attention. I, being a Pakistani and a Muslim, besiege the government to take some rational decision instead of banning blasphemous stuff so that our reputation could also play a vital role displaying that we the worshiper of ISLAM, evergreen religion.

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  • DevilHunterX
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:03PM

    I miss funny cat videos :(

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  • Aijaz Haider
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:18PM

    I suggest that after blocking “YouTube” Pakistan better launch “WeTube” and put all the good things of “YouTube” on “WeTube”. Later, when others block “WeTube”, Pakistan can go for “TheyTube” and so on ……………..
    Regards.

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  • ali
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:24PM

    saeed the butcher of 300 people in mumbai is now the spokesman for pakistan…good,very good. google should be banned in pakistan

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  • Bob
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:24PM

    @ Aijaz Haidar

    If you are the professor of Islam and Quran why don’t you refute here whatever was shown in the so called profane movie against prophet Muhammad.

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  • faheema
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:31PM

    Our courts can at best deal with such matters, this is what shrewd want from courts by keeping them busy in such absurd affairs while suffering litigants cursing, democracy, constitution, political system hence reinforcing claims of bearded lot that only Sharia will solve their problems which means rule of Mullahs. Recommend

  • faheema
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:35PM

    @ smj, most intelligent suggestion for LHC, hope Liaqat Baloch, Hafiz Saeed will agree as their is no room for electricity in country following the norms of Sharia.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:35PM

    I suggest that those who favour the ban on objectionable content on Google or you tube should simply exercise their right by boycotting Google, you tube, Facebook, cellphone, CD, DVD,computers, internet, text messaging, twitters, LinkedIn, movies, plane, cars, scooters, bus etc because these were created by infidel and is not mentioned in the Quran majjid. Alternately either grow up as a citizen of global community and accept new reality of social media and new inventions. All good things come with a grain of salt. There is nothing new here only medium of delivery has changed not the message. People have gone through these fears of unknown of the medium when Radio, fax machine, telephone, letters, photocopy machine came along. Medium is the story. OR come up with Islamic Google, Islamic Facebook, Islamic car, Islamic Telephone—-.

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  • Lala Gee
    Oct 18, 2012 - 9:37PM

    I personally have no sympathy with those who mock and insult other religions with malicious intentions. One can disagree with the dogmas, beliefs, and teachings of a particular religion, but that does not mean that you are allowed to present concocted and twisted convictions as the true teachings of a religion. Having said that, I think what LHC is trying to do is not an intelligent way to handle the problem. Well, blocking porn sites, which is a desirable step, is something different than blocking content which is basically not meant for Muslims, and the others we cannot prevent from viewing.

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  • Inidan
    Oct 18, 2012 - 10:37PM

    Indian has its ban on the internet… and Blackberry service snooping.Recommend

  • Aijaz Haider
    Oct 18, 2012 - 10:56PM

    @Bob: “@ Aijaz Haider:If you are the professor of Islam and Quran why don’t you refute here whatever was shown in the so called profane movie against prophet Muhammad.”
    I have not seen the movie. I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering and am not a professor of Islam and Quran. Tell me whatever was shown in the so called profane movie, then I will refute it.
    Regards.

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  • Cautious
    Oct 18, 2012 - 10:58PM

    Why not just ban the internet – isolate yourselves from the rest of the World and maintain your delusion that your holier than everyone?

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  • Ishaq Khan
    Oct 18, 2012 - 11:04PM

    Cant see any difference Between Pakistani court’s
    Ruling and Drawing Room Gossips

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  • gp65
    Oct 19, 2012 - 12:42AM

    Lahore highcourt direction to take the issue to International court of justice (ICJ) shows a lack of awareness of the jurisdiction of international court of justice. A case can be taken to ICJ by one state if it can prove that another state is in brech of a binding UN resolution.

    The respect for Islam blll had passed as a non-binding resolution in 1999 by OIC. Over the years the support for the bill has reduced instead of increasing. The people who used to abstain now vote against the bill and many non-Muslim countries who had voted in its favour earlier now abstain. Just last week OIC declared that it would no longer attempt to get the bill passed.

    In light of information, under what existing international law is the highcourt judge directing that the government take it to ICJ?

    As many have pointed out, there is simply no way for the government to even identify all possible material on google and youtube that mabe considered blasphemous by someone. Once identified there is no way to truly block access to people determined to reach that information. SO what next – block google? What about other search engib=nes then , should they also not be blocked? What about cellphones – after all someone could forward blasphemous messages to you.

    Finally assuming material can be blocked – is the court delegating its power to decide on blasphemy to the PTA whereby a clerk in PTA can decide what is blasphemous and what is not?

    Is it no much simpler for people who feel offended by certain material to not go looking for it? At least on media like TV/radio one maybe on a channel and suddenly without warning something may come up that offends up and we have a chance to get offended until we change channel. With youtune and google – if you do not actually search for material that offends you, you will not be exposed to it at all.

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  • gp65
    Oct 19, 2012 - 2:30AM

    @Cautious: “Why not just ban the internet “

    Yep and cellphones too. Not sure if you read the story of yet another blapshemy case. A boy was sent some blasphemous material as a text message. He claims he forwarded without reading and the recipent accused him of blasphemy. Regardles of whether he forwarded after reading or without t reading ,m the fact is he DID receive blasphemous material via phone. So switch the phones off please – plus printing presses because God forbid someone could print something blasphemous.

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  • Oct 19, 2012 - 7:45AM

    as I keep saying follow the mullahs into oblivion

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  • Indian Wisdom
    Oct 19, 2012 - 10:38AM

    Don’t they have something worth to do???
    Islam is followed by more than 1.6 billion and respected by several times more ….
    Then why are they (courts and clerics) so insecure over a few silly and idiotic movies???
    If they really believed in the strength of Islam they won’t have resorted to such regressive steps…..

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