Pakistan blocks access to YouTube in growing Internet crackdown over ’sacrilegious’ content

By Sebastian Abbot, AP
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pakistan blocks YouTube over unIslamic content

ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani government blocked access to YouTube on Thursday because of “sacrilegious” content on the video-sharing website, signaling a growing Internet crackdown against sites deemed offensive to the country’s majority Muslim population.

The move against YouTube came a day after the government blocked access to Facebook because of a page on the social networking site that encourages users to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The page sparked criticism because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority did not point to specific material on YouTube that prompted it to block the site, only citing “growing sacrilegious contents.” The government took action against both Facebook and YouTube after it failed to persuade the websites to remove the “derogatory material,” the regulatory body said in a statement.

It welcomed representatives from the two websites to contact the Pakistani government to resolve the dispute in a way that “ensures religious harmony and respect.”

The regulatory body said it has blocked more than 450 Internet links containing offensive material. It is unclear how many of the links were blocked in the last two days.

Access to the online encyclopedia site Wikipedia and the photo sharing site Flickr also was restricted Thursday.

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