Pakistan lifts Facebook ban

Written by Mohammed Farooq

Topics: Social Networks

Pakistan lifted a ban on Facebook yesterday after officials from the social networking site apologised for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents, a top information technology official said. The move came almost two weeks after Pakistan imposed the ban amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favourable ones, as blasphemous. “In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed from the URL,” said Najibullah Malik, secretary of Pakistan’s information technology ministry, referring to the technical term for a web page. Facebook assured the Pakistani government that nothing of this sort will happen in the future,” Malik said. Pakistan blocked Facebook on May 19 following a ruling by one of the country’s highest courts. The Lahore High Court reversed its ruling yesterday because of Facebook’s response, paving the way for the government to restore access, Malik said. The government will continue to block some Web pages that contain “sacrilegious material,” but Malik declined to specify which ones. The Facebook controversy sparked a handful of protests across Pakistan, many by student members of radical Islamic groups. Some of the protesters carried signs advocating holy war against the website for allowing the page. Bangladesh also decided to block Facebook on Sunday but said it would restore access to the site if the offensive material was removed. It is not the first time that images of the Prophet have sparked anger. Pakistan and other Muslim countries saw large and sometimes violent protests in 2006 when a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

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