May 31, 2010

Pakistan restores Facebook access


by Benjamin Graham

A Pakistan court has ordered the government to restore access to Facebook.

The court order comes nearly two weeks after the government blocked the social networking website when it hosted a competition for the best images of the Prophet Muhammad.

Drawings and images of the prophet are considered blasphemous in many branches of Islam.

Facebook has now withdrawn the competition from its website, the court heard.

Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court, who issued the order to block Facebook on 19 May, reversed his decision based on the evidence heard.

“Restore Facebook. We don’t want to block access to information,” he said.

He urged government officials to develop a system for blocking “blasphemous” content rather than whole websites.

“It is the government’s job to take care of such things, which spark resentment among the people and bring them onto the streets,” Justice Chaudhry said.

“They should take steps to block any blasphemous content on the internet.”

Pakistan has around 2.5 million Facebook users.

Last week Pakistani authorities restored access to video sharing website YouTube after it managed to develop a system for blocking videos containing “sacrilegious content”.

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