ISLAMABAD, May 21: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Thursday directed all internet service providers concerned to shut down YouTube in view of growing sacrilegious content on the website.
The PTA took the step after using all possible avenues within its jurisdiction, including using regular channels available on Facebook and YouTube to launch protests against the publishing of derogatory material available on their websites – which increased in number as time passed by.
The PTA has so far blocked more than 450 links on the Internet containing derogatory material, according to a press release. The PTA has already announced a phone number and a complaint number to receive complaints on the issue.
Students in some of the country’s major cities protested on Thursday against the sacrilegious Internet depictions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that led to the blocking of popular websites, Facebook and YouTube.
Dozens of students protested in Islamabad, calling for a boycott of Facebook and supporting a government ban of the website.
Several hundred students also demonstrated in Multan, where they set alight a US flag and temporarily blocked a road, calling for a blanket ban on Facebook before dispersing peacefully.
In Peshawar, more than 500 students rallied and chanted slogans against Facebook. They demanded the government end ties with countries involved in publication of the blasphemous caricatures. In Karachi, some citizens said censorship could encourage extremism.
“Pakistani people have the right to know about the world. The extremists want to snatch this right from the people which will certainly help extremism,” said a writer.
“The competition hurt Muslims. But only that link should have been blocked,” a student from Lahore agreed. “Facebook has nothing to do with it. It’s just that one page,” she added.