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Pakistan: Twitter has been Blocked

Categories: Pakistan, Internet governance, Regulation

Twitter has been blocked in Pakistan on Sunday. The country's top telecommunications officials said that it was blocked because it refused to remove tweets considered offensive to Islam [1].

The tweets were promoting a competition on Facebook to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, said Mohammad Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication's Authority [2]. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

The competitions is called Draw Muhammad Day, as tweeted [3] the Welsh-Pakistani photographer, Sufian Ahmed

The news comes few hours after the Pakistani Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik, tweeted:

According to the Pakistani officials, “Both Facebook and Twitter were involved. We negotiated with both. Facebook has agreed to remove the stuff but Twitter is not responding to us”. Matih Abbas commented on this:

In fact, Facebooks also has been blocked for a while [12] in Pakistan a couple of years ago.

Faizan Lakhani wondered:

Finally, it worth mentioning that few months ago, in March 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority published a request for proposals for the “deployment and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System [14]”. Yet, seems that the government's effort are not succeeding so far, as Pakistanis still find ways to reach twitter [15] even after the block. Aaqil Mahmood published some tips for breaking the block [16] in his blog. And Yannis Koutsomitis ‏tweeted [17] that TweetDeck and other twitter applications are still working.

Update: Nine hours after the ban, reports came that the ban has been removed [18].