Bangladesh bans Facebook as Pakistan rescinds block


Bangladeshi authorities have decided to prevent access to Facebook in the country, as Pakistan has rescinded its ban on the social networking service.

A page on Facebook named Everyone Draw Mohammed Day had led to the blocks. The depiction of any prophet is seen as blasphemous by most Muslims.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) announced on Saturday that access to the service would be prevented.

BTRC acting chairman Hasan Mahmud Delwar told AFP that the drawings of Mohammed had "hurt the religious sentiments of the country's Muslim population".

"Some links in the site also contained obnoxious images of our leaders including the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leader of the opposition," he said.

Once the offending Facebook pages have been permanently blocked, the social networking site will be opened again in the country, he claimed.

Meanwhile, Facebook access has been restored in Pakistan. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had announced a block on Facebook in May following decisions made by the country's government and court orders passed by the High Court of Pakistan.

A Facebook spokesperson told IT PRO that the company was "delighted" users in Pakistan can use the service again.

The spokesperson explained that after reviewing the situation, Facebook decided to prevent the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day page from being accessed by users in the country "out of respect for local standards and customs".

"We have not removed the content from Facebook, although some pages may have been removed by their creators, but have only restricted access to it from certain countries out of respect for local rules," the spokesperson said.

"When dealing with user generated content on global websites, there are occasions where content that is illegal in one country is not (or may even be protected) in another. For example, Nazi content is illegal in some countries, but that does not mean it should be removed entirely from Facebook," the spokesperson added.

A previous PTA block on YouTube over what the Pakistani government called "sacrilegious" content has also been at least partially lifted, according to a Reuters report.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.