Pakistan Court Orders Temporary Facebook Ban Over Prophet Caricatures

A Pakistani court this morning ordered authorities to temporarily block social networking service Facebook over a competition encouraging users to publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on the site. Pakistani muslims stepped up to condemn the user-generated contest for blasphemy, as the depiction of any prophet is strictly prohibited in Islam (favorable or not).

The Facebook group “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” has generated heaps of criticism in the predominantly Muslim Islamic Republic of Pakistan – Muslims faithfuls set up online campaigns and other protests to grab the attention of the authorities.

A group of lawyers called the Islamic Lawyers’ Movement went a step further today and petitioned the court to order a blanket ban on Facebook in Pakistan. About 45 million Pakistani use the social networking site, according to various reports.

Justice Ejaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to block Facebook until May 31, when the court will open a detailed hearing into the case, and to submit a written reply to the petition by that date.

In February 2008, Pakistan’s telecoms regulator imposed restrictions on YouTube.

(More on BBC, Al Jazeera English and AFP)