The Muhammad cartoon controversy has claimed another victim. But this one is not a person but rather bloggers:
Pakistan telecom authorities have blocked several websites inviting people to draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, it has emerged.
Instructions were issued to internet service providers across Pakistan on 27 February to block about a dozen websites of various origins.
[…] Bloggers in Pakistan became first became aware of the ban on 28 February when they were unable to access a popular blog hosting site, Blogspot.
One of the blocked sites is hosted on Blogspot, which led to the blocking of all web journals hosted on the site.
The Pakistan bloggers found their blogs blocked, even though their blogs are not connected with the cartoons.
They say they have still been able to edit and update their blogs, but not able to read them.
Pakistani bloggers are, of course, not happy. Here is the response Moiz Khan got from his ISP.
I have got the response from our Network administrator I.e All the subdomains of the blogspot hosted on the server 22.214.171.124 are blocked from the ITI on the strict instructions from the FIA because of the unathorized and anti Islamic contents so they have block the IP of the server rather then URL blocking. We are getting many other complains for the said IP and webhost. Our written complaint is already submitted to the higher authorities of ITI.
Teeth Maestro has started a “Don’t block the blog!” campaign while a Google group called Action Group Against Blogspot Ban in Pakistan has also been started. Nouman has also been active and has found fame (and fortune?) by getting his post published on BBC Urdu. Danial suggests the following actions against the ban:
- Contact PTA officials and file your complaint; express your anger and disgust and demand immediate action.
- Blog about this issue on your blogs and ask your readers to take similar actions.
- Send emails to local newspapers.
- Send email to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
- Contact United Nation’s Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights.
The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government to block internet sites displaying sacrilegious cartoons and called explanation from authorities concerned as to why these sites had not been blocked earlier.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Faqir Mohammad Khokhar and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan was hearing a petition of Dr Mohammad Imran Uppal.
It issued notices to Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan, Chairmen of the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for March 13.
The federal government, Ministry of Telecommunication, Pemra, PTA, Yahoo Incorporation USA and I & I Co, the host of blasphemous site, have been cited as respondents in the petition.
[…] Makhdoom Ali Khan was also asked by the court to explore legal ways to block objectionable material on websites.
“We will not accept any excuse or any technical objection on this issue as it concerns sentiments of entire Muslim Ummah,” CJ observed adding all concerned authorities would have to appear in the court on next hearing with report of concrete measures for implementation of court’s order.
It seems like the court has no idea of the Internet and doesn’t know that blocking any website is not easy and it is often the case that lots of other sites are accidently blocked too (like all those blogs in this case).
Bypassing the censorship of blogspot in Pakistan is very easy. Here are some tips to defeat censors.
And finally, I don’t understand what is the point of blocking a dozen websites while the cartoons are available now on thousands of sites. If Pakistan wants to block every such site, it might have to block big names like Wikipedia, search engines like Google and Yahoo!, proxy servers and so on. In short, the whole Internet would have to be blocked.