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Pakistan blocks Wikipedia over ‘blasphemous content material’

Wikipedia was blocked in Pakistan on Saturday (Feb 4) after authorities censored the web site for internet hosting “blasphemous content material” within the newest blow to digital rights within the nation.

Blasphemy is a delicate difficulty in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and social media giants Fb and YouTube have beforehand been banned for publishing content material deemed sacrilegious.

The net encyclopedia was blocked “after it failed to reply to our repeated correspondence over removing of the blasphemous content material and meet the deadline”, Malahat Obaid, a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, instructed AFP on Saturday.

The PTA had earlier within the week given Wikipedia a 48-hour ultimatum to take away materials, with out publicly specifying its precise objections.

“They did take away a few of the materials however not all,” Obaid mentioned. “It can stay blocked till they take away all of the objectionable materials.”

An AFP reporter in Pakistan was not in a position to entry the location through cell phone on Saturday.

The Wikimedia Basis – the non-profit fund managing Wikipedia – mentioned the block “denies the fifth most populous nation on the earth entry to the most important free information repository”.

“If it continues, it is going to additionally deprive everybody entry to Pakistan’s information, historical past, and tradition,” an announcement mentioned.


Free speech campaigners have highlighted what they are saying is a sample of rising authorities censorship of Pakistan’s printed and digital media.

“There’s simply been a concerted effort to exert higher management over content material on the web,” mentioned digital rights activist Usama Khilji.

“The principle objective is to silence any dissent,” he instructed AFP. “A variety of occasions, blasphemy is weaponised for that objective.”

Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after it carried a movie in regards to the Prophet Mohammed that led to violent protests throughout the Muslim world.

Lately, the nation has additionally blocked the wildly well-liked video-sharing app TikTok a number of occasions over “indecent” and “immoral” content material.

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