Pakistan Blocks Facebook, YouTube, 450 Other Sites After Muhammad-Drawing Contest

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Photo: Facebook

After it became aware of a “blasphemous” competition on Facebook in which users were invited to draw caricatures of Muhammad, Pakistan ordered the country's Internet service providers to block the site. The “competition” was started by a Facebook user who set up a page called “Draw Muhammad Day” and invited people to submit their depictions. Islamic law prohibits images of the prophet, a tenet that drew international attention in 2005 when Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper caused worldwide protests. The Pakistani government has imposed the Facebook ban until the end of the month, and protesters have already begun gathering in Karachi holding banners and shouting anti-Facebook slogans. Following the ban, the Pakistani government went on to censor other websites with a high concentration of sacrilegious material as well, including YouTube, portions of Wikipedia and Flickr, and 450 other sites. The silver lining for Pakistanis: Internet traffic has reportedly fallen 25 percent since the sites were blocked, indicating that some people may now be experiencing actual face-to-face human interactions, like in the olden days.

Pakistan Blocks Facebook Over Contest to Draw Prophet Muhammad [Business Week]
Pakistan Widens Online Ban to Include YouTube [NYT]