Pakistan blocking YouTube and Facebook

Pakistan is blocking the video sharing website YouTube one day after ISPs in the country received a court order to block Facebook. BBC News is saying reports are leading them to believe a number of Wikipedia and Flickr pages are also being censored. Pakistani officials say YouTube has been blocked because of its "growing sacrilegious content". 

Reuters reported on Wednesday the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) told ISPs to indefinitely block access to Facebook due to a group on the website named "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", a competition to be held on May 20. The move comes despite the Lahore High Court decision to only temporarily ban access to the website until May 31. Facebook began to be unavailable on computers in Pakistan late afternoon on Wednesday but mobile devices still appeared to have access. 

TechCrunch has noted the controversial group has prompted a large response from some of Pakistan's 45 million Facebook users. The users have set up online campaigns and the Islamic Lawyers Forum also filed a petition to the Lahore High Court for the ban. The controversy has arisen because the representation of the Prophet Mohammed is seen as blasphemous and un-Islamic to Muslims.

The PTA has welcomed representatives from YouTube and Facebook to address the issue in a way that "ensures religious harmony and respect". AP reports that Facebook is investigating the issue saying, "While the content does not violate our terms, we do understand it may not be legal in some countries". 

The Lahore High Court will open a hearing into the Facebook case after the official temporary ban is lifted on May 31. YouTube was also blocked in 2007 for around a year for similar reasons but it is unclear how long the current ban will last. 

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