Daily Israel Report

Pakistan Restores Twitter After Block Over Blasphemous Cartoons

Pakistan restored access to Twitter after blocking the site over posts involving caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 5/21/2012, 2:20 PM

Arab in front of computer
Arab in front of computer
Flash 90 / Illustrative

Pakistan restored access to Twitter on Sunday after briefly blocking the site over posts that Islamabad said promoted a Facebook contest involving caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, AFP reported.

The website was blocked by the telecom authority on the orders of the IT ministry, after authorities accused Twitter of refusing to remove the posts.

Mohammad Younis Khan, spokesman for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said on Sunday evening that access to Twitter had “been restored,” approximately 12 hours after it was cut off.

Younis Khan said the IT ministry ordered the ban to be lifted, but was unaware of the reason behind the decision.  

The conservative Muslim state blocked Facebook for almost two weeks in May 2010 over a competition to draw the Prophet Mohammed, which led to restrictions on other popular sites.

Khan said that there was “blasphemous material” on the site and that those responsible for the Facebook competition had been “trying to hurt Muslim feelings”.

“Both Facebook and Twitter were involved. We negotiated with both. Facebook has agreed to remove the stuff but Twitter is not responding to us,” he said at the time.

In Pakistan, Twitter is used by prominent public figures such as celebrities, cabinet ministers and members of parliament.

The Ministry of IT had also directed the telecommunication authority to remain on high alert and immediately block all links displaying what it deemed to be profane caricatures of religious figures, AFP reported.

Twitter users in Pakistan lashing out at the government, calling the decision “corrupt and low caliber government.”