* Note: Please read below the news and then the following comments from my investigation into the Ban on the current situation of the Ban.
CURRENT MEDIA REPORTS:
According to Al-jazeera:
A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site Facebook after a user-generated contest page encourged members to post caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday instructed the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the site after the Islamic Lawyers Movement complained that a page called “Draw Mohammed Day” is blasphemous. Sajjad Chaudhry, the presiding judge, instructed officials with the ministry of telecommunications to submit a written reply to the ban by May 31 when courts will open a detailed hearing on the case. A ban is to be enforced in the meantime. "We have already blocked the URL link and issued instruction to internet service providers,” Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson for the PTA, said. About 20 people carried banners outside of courthouse in Lahore, condemning Facebook and praising Prophet Mohammed. Protest: Lawyers also petitioned the Pakistani government to register a strong protest with Facebook’s owners. "The competition has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims," lawyer Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali said. Facebook users in Pakistan, however, told AFP they could still access the site after the ban was imposed on Wednesday. Officials with the Pakistani government told the court they had already blocked Facebook pages relating to the competition, but the lawyers group argued that no part of a site can be banned unless the entire site is blocked. Pakistan has 45 million Facebook users, according to lawyers. The Facebook page for "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" had just over 40,000 supporters while the opposing "Against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" had more than 53,000.
According to the National Daily Times of Pakistan Reports:
LHC issues notice to PTA on plea to ban Facebook
LAHORE: Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority secretary to reply until Wednesday (today), on a petition seeking a ban on Facebook, which is holding a competition of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic Lawyers Movement filed the petition through Chaudhry Zulfiqar advocate, who stated that a competition was announced on Facebook on April 20 which would continue until May 20, asking all the members of the website to create their caricatures to participate in the competition. Zulfiqar said under the law no practice against Islam could be allowed in the country. He told the court that the website, having various features against the injunctions of Islam, is banned in various countries. Zulfiqar submitted that there were 45 million users of Facebook in Pakistan, adding that the PTA was responsible for its spread in Pakistan. He said the PTA has already blocked various websites in the country but was reluctant to ban Facebook. He said students and various segments of the society have already started protests in the country, which could be harmful for the public property. He requested the court to issue directions to PTA to put an immediate ban on the use of Facebook in the Pakistan. staff report
According to Daily DAWN Newspaper Staff Reporter on Wednesday, 19 May, 2010:
LAHORE, May 18: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on a petition seeking ban on Facebook, an international social networking website, in the country for holding a blasphemous competition of drawing caricatures of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry issued notice for Wednesday (today) on the petition filed by Ch Zulfikar advocate of Islamic Lawyers Forum. The petitioner-lawyer submitted that on the Facebook a competition was announced on April 20 last, which would continue till May 20. He said in the competition the members of the website were invited to draw caricatures of the Holy Prophet. He said Article 2-A of the Constitution restricted any practice against the religion in the country. He said the website having various features against the injunctions of Islam had already been banned in various Islamic countries. He pointed out that China, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Saudi Arabia had already imposed a ban on the website. The lawyer said the PTA had already blocked various blasphemous and contemptuous websites in the country but was reluctant to ban Facebook. He sought directions for PTA to put an immediate ban on the use of Facebook in Pakistan.
MIXED REACTION OF PAKISTAN INTERNET STAKEHOLDERS:
Mixed reactions are being generated from all corners of the country by Internet users and stakeholders. To name a few groups to read and follow:
- ProPakistani (292 Comments): http://propakistani.pk/2010/05/18/breaking-facebook-is-going-to-get-banned-in-pakistan/
- ProPakistani Draw Day: Why Facebook is Culprit and How Best to React? http://propakistani.pk/2010/05/19/blasphemy-why-facebook-is-culprit-and-how-best-to-react/
- Telecom Grid Pakistan: http://groups.google.com/group/telecom-grid-pakistan
- Society Against Internet Censorship in Pakistan: http://groups.google.com/group/agabbip
- Blogger News Network: http://www.bloggernews.net/124575
I have been probing into the matter and from what I have gathered until now that the Secretary IT and PTA have instructed the PIE to shut down Facebook.com for 24 hours as a national protest from Pakistan. Facebook.com will be inaccessible starting tonight 12am for 24 hours. Facebook.com remains to be the 3rd most accessed website from Pakistan according to Alexa URL: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/PK and the total number of users of Facebook.com from Pakistan stand at: 2,359,620 which is 0.51% of Facebook.com's percentage of Global Audience according to Check Facebook URL: http://www.checkfacebook.com.
With a major level of communications by Pakistani's happening on Facebook, it cannot be shut down permanently and I am sure the govt is well aware of those implications that will be triggered as a result of it. BBC also reports a temporary Facebook shut down
Though this whole matter may turn into an international violation of freedom of expression etc, the authorities may feel that this sudden jolt might show their protest to be substantial which again stands questionable by the majority of Facebook users from Pakistan. Let's see what happens and what is the impact of this ban on the Pakistani Facebook.com users.
I am monitoring the Facebook.com Pakistan issue closely and you may contact me for any information on what's happening so far!