ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s media regulator stated Monday it blocked Wikipedia providers within the nation for hurting Muslim sentiment by not eradicating purportedly blasphemous content material from the positioning. Critics denounced Islamabad’s motion, saying it was a blow to digital rights.
Beneath Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy legal guidelines, anybody discovered responsible of insulting Islam or its figures could be sentenced to loss of life, though the nation has but to hold out capital punishment for blasphemy.
However even allegations of the offense are sometimes sufficient to impress mob violence and even lethal assaults. Worldwide and home rights teams say that accusations of blasphemy have typically been used to intimidate spiritual minorities and settle private scores.
Learn Extra: How Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws Are Tearing The Country Apart
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority says it blocked Wikipedia as a result of a 48-hour deadline to take away the content material was ignored, in line with a spokesperson. “Such issues harm the feelings of Muslims,” stated Malahat Obaid, from the regulator.
She stated Pakistani authorities are in talks with Wikipedia officers and the ban might be lifted if the platform fully removes anti-Islam content material.
The Wikimedia Basis on Saturday confirmed the ban, saying: “We hope that the Pakistan authorities joins us in a dedication to information as a human proper and restores entry to @Wikipedia and Wikimedia tasks promptly, in order that the folks of Pakistan can proceed to obtain and share information with the world.”
Mohsin Raza Khan, a Pakistani social media knowledgeable, stated it’s straightforward to replace or change Wikipedia materials deemed sacrilegious or offensive for Muslims — so blocking the positioning shouldn’t be the reply.
“Pakistan’s media regulator and different authorities ought to attempt to discover some viable technical resolution to such issues as blasphemous content material is offered in all places,” he stated. “It is the same as a drop within the ocean of data.”
The Lahore-based Digital Rights Basis earlier referred to as the Wikipedia ban an affront to Pakistanis’ proper to entry data and a mockery of the nation’s dedication to uphold its human rights obligations.
Prior to now, Pakistan briefly banned TikTok twice for allegedly importing “immoral, obscene and vulgar” content material.
However the ban was later lifted after TikTok assured Pakistan it could take away immoral content material and in addition block customers who add “illegal content material.” The app was downloaded thousands and thousands of occasions in Pakistan when the ban was imposed in 2020 and 2021.
Additionally, in 2008, Pakistan banned YouTube over movies depicting Prophet Muhammad. Muslims usually imagine any bodily depiction of Islam’s prophet is blasphemous.
Additionally on Monday, Amir Mahmood, spokesman for Pakistan’s Ahmadi neighborhood, sought safety from the federal government, saying unidentified Islamists in a number of separate assaults have broken Ahmadi locations of worship in southern Sindh province and elsewhere within the nation.
“The liberty of worship given to us by the structure is shrinking,” he instructed The Related Press.
The assaults, which befell over a number of days, brought about no casualties, Mahmood stated.
The Ahmadi religion was established on the Indian subcontinent within the nineteenth century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers imagine he was the messiah that was promised by the Prophet Muhammad.
Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. Since then, they’ve repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists in the Muslim-majority nation, drawing worldwide condemnation.
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