Lahore High Court Monday ordered authorities to restore access to Facebook, nearly after a fortnight the popular social networking website was banned nationwide in a row over blasphemy.
Justice Ejaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court issued the directive, reversing a May 19 order on the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to block Facebook over blasphemous drawings of Prophet Mohammed on the website. ‘Restore Facebook. We don't want to block access to information,’ Chaudhry told the court. A contest organized by a Facebook user calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed to promote ‘freedom of expression’ sparked a major backlash in the conservative Muslim country of 170 million. Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous and even moderate Muslims were deeply offended by the drawings that appeared on a Facebook page in an answer to the call for an ‘Everyone Draw Mohammed Day’. A group of Islamic lawyers petitioned the Lahore court, which had ordered Facebook blocked until May 31 and the PTA then banned YouTube and restricted access to other websites, including Wikipedia. The court Monday adjourned until June 15 the petitions from the Islamic lawyers. Mudassir Hussain, an official from the information technology ministry, told the court that all links to ‘blasphemous’ content on the Internet would remain blocked in Pakistan.