Pakistan bans Facebook, YouTube for blasphemy

The World

Pakistan has temporarily blocked access to Facebook and YouTube due to “blasphemy.”

Here’s the context: It started with South Park. The intentionally incendiary cartoon comedy came under criticism for making an image depicting Mohammed (an act offensive to many Muslims). Comedy Central ran the episode in question, but heavily censored it; among the protests from Muslims was one from a group named “Revolution Muslim.” The group posted a lengthy response to the episode, including language bordering on death threats. So another cartoonist came to the defense of free speech, and made a joking proposition that there should be an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”

That led to a Facebook group (that the original cartoonist denounced, by the way). And as the “day” approached last Thursday, the Facebook group grew to more than 100,000 members, some of them highly indignant and not at all shy with their language. Lawyers in Pakistan lobbied to have the site banned for blasphemy (and in a separate case, YouTube, too, which had clips of the South Park episode in question).

So netizens in Pakistan found themselves without Facebook or YouTube last week. And the reactions have been vociferous from all sides.

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