After Facebook, Pakistan shuts down YouTube

By Kamran Haider

ISLAMABAD (BestGrowthStock) – Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube indefinitely in a bid to contain “blasphemous” material, officials said on Thursday.

The blockade came after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed Internet service providers to stop access to social network site Facebook indefinitely on Wednesday because of an online competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad.

Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims.

Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider, said the PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an “immediate” block of YouTube.

“It was a serious instruction as they wanted us to do it quickly and let them know after that,” he told Reuters.

YouTube was also blocked in the Muslim country in 2007 for about a year for what it called un-Islamic videos.

A Foreign Office spokesman condemned the publication of caricatures of the Muslim prophet on Facebook and urged countries to “address the issue” which he said was an “extremely sensitive and emotional matter for Muslims.”

“Such malicious and insulting attacks hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world and can not be accepted under the garb of freedom of expression,” the spokesman, Abdul Basit, told a weekly briefing.

The publications of cartoons of the prophet in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries. About 50 people were killed during violent protests in Muslim countries in 2006 over the cartoons, five of them in Pakistan.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Denmark’s embassy in Islamabad in 2008, killing six people, saying it was in revenge for publication of the caricatures.


PTA spokesman Khurram Ali Mehran said the action to block YouTube was taken after the authority determined that content considered blasphemous by devout Muslims was being posted on the website.

“Before shutting down (YouTube), we did try just to block particular URLs or links, and access to 450 links on the Internet were stopped, but the blasphemous content kept appearing so we ordered a total shut down,” he said.

The PTA issued a statement on Thursday saying, it would “welcome the concerned authorities of Facebook and YouTube to contact the PTA for resolving the issue at the earliest which ensures religious harmony and respect.”

The PTA decision to block all of Facebook also cut Pakistanis off from groups and pages dedicated to opposing the competition, which have thousands more supporters than the competition does.

Along with the ban, some other websites, including Wikipedia and Flickr, have been inaccessible in Pakistan since Wednesday night.

But the authority spokesman said those sites had been blocked because of a technical reason and no orders had been issued against them.

But he said the authority was monitoring other websites.

Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, said the blocking of the two websites would cut up to a quarter of total Internet traffic in Pakistan.

After the PTA’s directives against Facebook and YouTube, Pakistani mobile companies blocked all Blackberry services on Wednesday night but restored services used by non-corporate users later on Thursday.

Stock Today

(Additional reporting by Augustine Anthony and Faisal Aziz in Karachi; Editing by Chris Allbritton)

After Facebook, Pakistan shuts down YouTube