Twitter Blocks Access to Blasphemous Content in Pakistan

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Twitter has blocked dozens of tweets and accounts in Pakistan on the request of officials to stop the access to “blasphemous” and “unethical” content. 

Twitter Blocks Blasphemous Content, accounts and tweets in Pakistan

From May 5 to 14, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) submitted at least five requests requesting Twitter to block access to specific tweets and accounts for users in the Islamic republic.

It is thought to be the first time Twitter has suspended content especially for users in Pakistan, however the government has closed the site down in the past.

Most of the offending material related to anti-Islam accounts, an annual online competition to draw caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and the accounts of three US porn stars were listed.

In Pakistan, where 97% of the population are Muslims, religion is tremendously sensitive and images of the prophet, which are forbidden in Islam, cause serious felony.

In its requests to Twitter, PTA labelled the content consisted of images of the Koran being desecrated, as “blasphemous” and “unethical”, and believed it dishonored the Pakistani penal code.

In Pakistan, perceived insults to Islam and the prophet can result in violent public reactions in Pakistan.

A crude anti-Islam film posted to YouTube in 2012 caused violent street demonstrations in Pakistan which resulted in more than 20 people dead and hence directed the government to block the video-sharing site – a prohibition that remains in force.

On May 6, Pakistan’s parliament voted solidly to lift a prohibition on YouTube in a non-binding resolution which was however greeted by free speech activists as a significant representative move.

Twitter did not straightaway respond to an AFP request for comment.