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Updated: June 1, 2010 21:27 IST

Pakistan restores access to Facebook

PTI
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An activist of Pakistan's hardline Islamic student group Islami Jamiat Talaba shows his anger at a rally condemning facebook. File photo
AP An activist of Pakistan's hardline Islamic student group Islami Jamiat Talaba shows his anger at a rally condemning facebook. File photo

Pakistani authorities today restored access to Facebook on the orders of a court that had blocked the popular social networking website nearly two weeks ago for hosting a page with blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

Justice Ijaz Chaudhry of Lahore High Court adjourned proceedings in the case related to the blocking of Facebook till June 15 and said he would review his decision on that date.

“I am not closing this case,” he said.

The judge asked Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik to inform the court on June 15 whether any websites, including Facebook, had again uploaded any blasphemous material.

Mr. Malik told the court that the Pakistan government had registered a protest over the “blasphemous and sacrilegious” content posted on Facebook with the US, where the website has its headquarters.

U.S. authorities had agreed with Pakistan that the hosting of such material on a website is a “crime”. An assurance had been given to Pakistan that something similar would not happen again, Mr. Malik said.

The judge remarked that if any websites hosted blasphemous content, they would again be blocked.

The Islamic Lawyers Movement, which filed the petition that led to the blocking of Facebook and other sites hosting blasphemous content, protested the court’s decision.

Acting on the court’s order, the Information Technology Ministry instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to unblock Facebook and block only URLs that contain blasphemous contents.

Justice Chaudhry had directed the PTA on May 19 to block Facebook over “blasphemous” caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

Authorities subsequently extended the crackdown to other websites.

In Islamabad, Wahaj—us—Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan told PTI that about 1,200 URLs continued to be blocked to prevent access to blasphemous and sacrilegious content.

The PTA was asked by the Information Technology Ministry to remain vigilant and close links containing blasphemous contents without disrupting the flow of information needed by internet users.

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