Pakistan blocks access to YouTube and Facebook

The Pakistani government has blocked access to YouTube, the popular video-sharing website, citing “growing sacrilegious” content.

The move comes after a Pakistani court ordered a temporary block of social networking site Facebook on Wednesday, after a row unfolded concerning a group on Facebook urging users on the popular social networking site to draw pictures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the government agency responsible for the operation and maintenance of Pakistani telecommunications, ordered all internet service providers to “completely shut-down” all access to Facebook and YouTube from the interior of Pakistan. According to a spokesman, the agency only did so after “all possible” options had been exhausted.

The spokesman, Khoram Ali Mehran, said that they were “just following the government’s instructions and the ruling of the Lahore High Court”, and that “if the government decides to unblock it, then that’s what we will do”.

The Facebook user who created the group, entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, said that she had got the idea for the group after watching an episode of South Park on the television channel Comedy Central, in which a line involving the Prophet had been ‘bleeped out’. The site was blocked the day before the event was scheduled to take place.

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan before, when material “offensive to Muslims” led to restrictions in 2008.

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