Pakistan to monitor websites for ‘anti-Islam content’

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, June 25, 2010 12:43 EDT
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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s government ordered the monitoring of websites including Google, Yahoo and YouTube for “anti-Islam content” Friday, an official said, amid renewed tensions over the Internet.

“The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has received orders from the ministry of information technology to monitor these websites, which are being implemented,” a spokesman for the authority told AFP.

The order comes after a row over Pakistan’s blocking for nearly a fortnight last month of the Facebook website due to content deemed blasphemous.

“The government has also ordered blocking of 17 webpage links for containing blasphemous content,” the spokesman said.

“The major websites which will be monitored for anti-Islam content include Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, Bing, Amazon and YouTube,” the spokesman added.

The webpage links being blocked also include those of YouTube, Islam Exposed and Jehad.org, he said.

A high court earlier this week ordered the government to block access to nine websites including Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing for showing material against “the fundamental principals of Islam and its preaching”.

Judge Mazhar Iqbal of Lahore High Court announced the order in the eastern city of Bahawalpur in response to a petition filed by a retired civil servant, Siddique Mohammad.

Pakistan shut off Facebook for nearly two weeks last month in a storm of controversy about a competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad and has restricted access to hundreds of online links because of blasphemy.

Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous and the row sparked comparison with protests across the Muslim world at the publication of satirical cartoons of Mohammed in European newspapers in 2006.

When a Facebook user decided to organise an “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day” competition to promote “freedom of expression”, it sparked a major backlash among Islamic activists in the South Asian country of 170 million.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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