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Pakistan Blocks Youtube Over Offensive Content

Islamabad: After banning Facebook, now Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube in a bid to contain “blasphemous” material, officials said on Thursday.

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

Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider, said PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an “immediate” blockade of YouTube. “It was a serious instruction as they wanted us to do it quickly and let them know after that,” he said.

YouTube was also blocked in the Muslim country in 2007 for about a year for what it called un-Islamic videos. A PTA official, who declined to be identified, said the action was taken after the authority determined that some caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were transferred from Facebook to YouTube.

Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims. Siraj said the blocking of the two websites would cut up to 25 percent of total Internet traffic in Pakistan.

“It’ll have an impact on the overall Internet traffic as they eat up 20 to 25 percent of the country’s total 65 giga-bytes traffic,” he said. Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries.

Around 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.

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