By Seth Weintraub
May 20, 2010

Pakistan blocks YouTube and other popular social sites because of “growing sacrilegious content.”

Update: That didn’t last long.  YouTube is now available in Pakistan.  Facebook is still blocked.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority announced that it will block the popular social networking site YouTube a day after Facebook met a similar fate.

Yesterday, a Pakistani court ordered that Facebook be blocked because of the”Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” group that was formed on its site. Obviously, depictions of the Prophet are forbidden in Islam and Pakistan is sensitive to this issue.  Five Pakistani people were killed in 2006 during violent demonstrations following the publication of Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

Facebook said it was investigating:

“While the content does not violate our terms, we do understand it may not be legal in some countries,” the company said in a statement. “In cases like this, the approach is sometimes to restrict certain content from being shown in specific countries.”

The court-ordered blockade is temporary and due to expire on May 31.

The blocking of YouTube is a continuation of the blockade against “sacrilegious” content, however the government is willing to reopen access to the sites so long as they “ensure religious harmony and respect.”

The Wikipedia blockade, according to Wahajus Siraj, the head of the Pakistani telecommunications company Nayatel, was just a technical glitch. Flickr is also reportedly blocked as well.

The crackdown is leading to divisions in Pakistani secular and religious society over its government’s role in policing the Internet for what some consider offensive material.

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