Pakistan blocks Facebook in row over Muhammad (PBUH) drawings

Pakistan blocks Facebook in row over Muhammad (PBUH) drawings

Authorities in Pakistan block access to Facebook after a competition page encouraged users to post drawings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Pakistan today blocked Facebook indefinitely in response to public outrage over a competition on the social networking site that encourages people to post drawings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, which controls internet access, directed service providers to block the website “till further notice” in compliance with a high court order obtained by a group of lawyers yesterday.

The court action was triggered by a Facebook page entitled Everybody Draw Mohammad Day — May 20 which contains over 200 images, many of them certain to offend Muslims, who consider all depictions of the prophet to be blasphemous.

As of today, the site had 5,000 followers and listed links to the pages of prominent critics of Islam such as the rightwing Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the Somali feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The page says its objective is to encourage the “free discussion of brutality of the radical aspects of Islam” and invites members to submit drawings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by tomorrow .

Whatever its goals, the site’s principal achievement may be to inflame Muslim opinion. Many of the 200 images already submitted depict Muhammad (PBUH) in a variety of unflattering poses and situations likely to offend even moderate Muslims. In one, a bearded face is superimposed over a bikini-clad body.

Others had a distinctly political tinge, such as a stereotypical photos of Islamist protests or images of an airliner smashing into the World Trade Centre under the slogan “Islam: a religion of peace.”

More on this article at Guardian.co.uk