See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Facebook Is Blocked in Pakistan As It Indulges In A Controversial Campaign

After the outcry surrounding the Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page which is campaigning for the creation of mass cartoon caricatures of Prophet Muhammed [PBUH] on the 20th of May, today the Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the entire Facebook.com domain in Pakistan till 31st May.

Reports of blockage had been appearing around the country from the morning, initially the PTA had only blocked the URL of the offending Facebook page on a number of ISP, but by the late evening it had spread throughout the entire Facebook domain. Over 1.8 Million registered Facebook users from Pakistan will not be able to access their Facebook pages for the next few days.

The official PR notification as reproduced by Aamir Attaa at ProPakistani is as follows:

BLOCKAGE OF FACE BOOK WEBSITE DUE TO PUBLICATION OF PROFANE ANTI ISLAMIC CONTENT ON ITS WEBSITE.

ISLAMABAD: MAY 19, 2010

In compliance with the orders of Honourable Lahore High Court, Lahore, on the Writ Petition No.10392/10, dated the 19th May, 2010, the Ministry of Information Technology has issued a directive to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the ‘Face Book’ and all other internet links displaying sacrilegious caricatures of the Holy Prophet.

Ministry of IT has also directed the PTA to remain alert and watchful and block all such links displaying the profane caricatures immediately.

Ministry of IT has requested public at large to contact a dedicated Telephone No.0800-5505 and e-mail address: complaint@pta.gov.pk , to transmit necessary information, should anything to the effect of objectionable caricature get displayed/propagated at any website.

This open ended notification does little to signify that its on an entire domain and also lays no significant directive on the deadline of the blockage.

According to Foud Bajwa, who writes on Internet governance in Pakistan:

13.48% of Pakistani Internet Users will not be able to access Facebook.com starting at 12am tonight on 20th of May 2010.

Adil Najam at Pakistaniat shares a very valid and compelling argument quite literally blaming the Muslim community to have brought attention to the devious campaign designer in helping him achieve his goal.

I am offended by the idea that page purports and the goals it seeks to achieve. So, why should I dignify it by a visit? Why should I publicize it? Why should I give it the attention it was created to seek. Yet, all of us (now me included, which is why writing this is uncomfortable) are doing exactly that. And that is what pains me.

They simply could not have done this without us. The only people who have turned this from nothingness into a huge issue is us. I am sure that those who set up the page are jumping up and down and thanking us for making their page such a huge success! And that is what pains me.

Rumaisa Mohani conversely suggests to condemn this issue:

We have to decide now that “Do we respect ourselves, as mentioned in the words of Iqbal”? …. Because if we don’t , then we will have to accept what others say about us and do to us.  The pictures, cartoons and insulting remarks are increasing day by day , only because we are getting used to them…. and that is where lurks the real danger !!!

An immediate action can be condemning any such hurtful act, which is against our religious beliefs peacefully. We can give them an impression that nobody believes them and make them believe that they are wasting their time and effort to berate us… show out self-respect ! But, we need to do this  as a unified force. We should neither deviate from our focus (i.e.,condemning them) nor getting into petty issues (i.e., our own lacking)… because this is what they want us to indulge in.

Tehseen Bajwa at Techie Buzz shares his frustration that Facebook did not block the page:

Interestingly, the group inviting people to draw cartoons only has 42,000 members while the group that is asking Facebook to take action against this has 58,000 members. This however, has failed to get Facebook’s attention. After lots of protests and boycott-Facebook campaigns online, people also gathered on the streets of Pakistan to push Facebook for an action. When disappointed, users appealed the Government to intervene and as a result the ban was issued.

Sardar Mohkim Khan writes to say that the facebook page must be banned:

I think Mark Zuckerburg should take notice and give his social network’s Terms of Use a good read. Once done, he must then remove this page or simply let all hate groups flourish, I mean you have to be just and not be biased. Again religion is not the major reason, simply put the issue is with how Facebook has ignored its own rules and making people hate it more.

Ayesha comments:

by banning Facebook we are giving them financial loss and then they will remove all the nonsense, but what about the real culprits? you think they will stop? NO!, they will definitely find some other platform to harass us

Waqas Kamran at CooL Yar Forums says

We should stop using Facebook until they realize and respect Muslims and till privacy concerns are solved. We should use our own websites and support Muslims in anyway.

Meanwhile I wrote on my own blog at Teeth Maestro:

It does little to solve the problem, we as peaceful Pakistanis were lobbying to force Facebook to block the groups activities, our outreach was peaceful and with a definite commitment we had condemned this issue to such a strong degree that we might have possibly been on the verge of a break through, to be honest no one from the Muslim world was so emotionally charged lobbying against this group as we were here in Pakistan, now they have a free reign to celebrate the Draw Mohammed Day. to have won, while our government simply forced us to keep our eye closed.

ProPakistani's stance on this issue is:

We are Boycotting the Facebook on May 20th, 2010 and we will abandon all our activities on Facebook ever after. We have this stance because:

  • Staying on Facebook for reporting the bad URLs is pointless, as Facebook has made its mind to not to listen you
  • ProPakistani (not saying about you) can’t preach at a platform where people are abusing and using indecent language
  • http://progpak.wordpress.com pagalpanchi

    Purely from the point of view of strategy, I think a boycott would have worked better. Blocking it by an order of the court is just silly and counterproductive. It makes the Pakistani state appear totalitarian and clueless and achieves nothing. Facebook doesn’t get a bad rap if the reason Pakistanis aren’t accessing it is because the state has blocked it! If people decided to publicly boycott Facebook, that would be another matter. As for the issue of that silly campaign and its facebook page, I have to agree with Adil – outraged Muslims gave them all the publicity they needed.

  • http://www.TheAllahsMiracles.com Waseem

    I really appreciate the action of Pakistani government who ordered to block the facebook.com.

    Facebook.com is issuing controversial issues, which will definitely lead to permanently block the facebook.com in many Islamic countries. I hope no body wants towards his religion to be abused. So WE MUST CONDEMN FACEBOOK.COM

  • Jiya Shah

    Thank God they are banned finally, as facebook is banned in all major Muslim countries. Now they will realize, majorities can also take decision. Use orkut, they are better not too raw and rash. I know anti Muslim are everywhere but there are some ethics regarding communities and networks.

  • Jamshaid Khan Barki

    LHC decision is well in time. Facebook should be banned once forever. Other muslim countries should also ban facebook forever. If facebook does not feel hesitation by doing such hurtful act, why we should feel hesitation to ban or leave facebook forever. Remember that is the least, a muslim can do.

  • Hussain

    I fully support the action taken by PTA, I urge all Muslim nations to take similar action against facebook

  • Zuhaib (xabu029@hotmail.com)

    I appreciate the orders of Lahore High Court…….Every website should be Blocked if it contains NON-ISLAMIC matirial….

  • shehzad ahmad pabbi

    We should stop using Facebook until they realize and respect Muslims and till privacy concerns are solved. We should use our own websites and support Muslims in anyway.so come forward ummah v love NABAE KAREEM

  • Omer Siddiqui

    It is not true that the action taken by our government will not result in a loss for Facebook.it will surely be a huge loss as millions of people are not going to access Facebook for few days. It was the duty of Facebook not to let such groups be created, as all the groups and communities are being observed regularly by the Facebook authority, so letting such group created was also a big fault of facebook. We are Muslims and together we can show that we will never accept any kind of misbehavior against our Prophet(S.A.W.S). Its a great step by Pakistani government.

  • wat is this yar….. it shouldn’t b like that

    this is totally useless if u want revolution change urself………. then make it in such a way…………. it was a good way of communicating others! i really didnt realized its importance

  • ahmed

    its a good decision taken by PTA.. May ALLAH give them Ajar-e-Azeem.
    but very sad……….where is our media? Geo, AAJ, Express, Dunya, Sama, ETC
    where is Dr. Shahid Masood, Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir, Talat, Asma Shirazi, Kashif, many more host………….
    where is our leaders………… Zardari, Gilani, Altaf Hussain, Nawaz Sharif, Imran ????
    rn’t they muslim?
    is it not their duty to protest against this big sin.?

    do they sold their EEman??

    VERY SAD

    Facebook ke sath iss media, polititions, pe bhi hamesha ke liye banned laga do, kisi kaam ka nahi jo media itni AZEEM Hasti ki gustakhi karne walo ko malamat na kare unka boycott na kare wo media, wo leader, wo siyasi party kafiro ke agent hain..

    Ab ALLAH ke azab ko dawat di ja rahi hai………..
    wait and see….

    • gulnaz

      ahmed !
      u are hundred % right . u knw now its time to get action against the media and this should be done by us. in logon ko SHOAIB N SANIA ki shaadi hi bs aik buhut bari news lagti thi,yh itni bari baat ho gai hy or hamara media aisa khaamosh hy jaisy k sb bilkul theek hy .
      yh sb buhut afsos naak hy ,really

    • HUSSAIN IQBAL

      i am so happy because pta take very good decision and we should take action against non muslims

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site