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Asia-Pacific

Pakistan restores online networking site Facebook

media Female supporters of Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami hold a placard … Reuters

Pakistan has restored access to the social networking site Facebook nearly two weeks after closing the site in a row over blasphemy. The Lahore High Court said the government should seek to follow the example of Saudi Arabia by only restricting “blasphemous” online content instead of shutting down the whole network.

“Restore Facebook. We do not want to block access to information,” said Lahore High Court judge Ejaz Chaudry.

Authorities in the Muslim country originally shut the network in response to an inflammatory contest organised by an anonymous user calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed to promote “freedom of expression”.

The popular video sharing website YouTube and the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia also came under fire from Pakistani authorities and were forced to close for one week.

Mudassir Hussain, an official from the information technology ministry, told the court that all links to "blasphemous" content on the Internet would remain blocked in Pakistan.

Facebook was still inaccessible in the country several hours after the court order and a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan said they were awaiting written orders.

In 2006, a Danish newspaper sparked violent demonstrations after publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Islam strictly prohibits any depiction of the prophet.

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