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Twitter banned in Pakistan over contentious material

Islamabad, May 20 (): Pakistan blocked access to Twitter, the famous social networking website on Sunday as the website refused to eliminate material which were considered violent to Islam, said a senior official of PTA, Pakistan telecommunication Authority.

Chairman of PTA, Mohammed Yaseen said the action has been taken under the instructions of the Information Technology Ministry. It is done because of the presence of blasphemous content in the social networking website. He said the ministry have been arguing with Twitter for quite some time, requesting them to eliminate a particular content.

Any illustration of the Prophet Mohammad is considered blasphemous and un-Islamic by most of the Muslims, who form the vast majority in Pakistan.

Yaseen, PTA chairman did not state which messages or users had provoked the ban. But, Pakistan’s Internet Service Providers Association stated the members have been asked to block Twitter for an indefinite period, without giving them any reason for the blocking.

Yaseen told the indefinite ban would be taken off after the on-going discussions between Twitter and Pakistan government about the supposedly blasphemous material which was published are resolved.

Both the officials from Twitter and Information Technology Ministry were not available for reference immediately.

In recent years, the social networking site, Twitter which is popular all over the world has also become more and more popular in Pakistan. Its users also include government officials and politicians.

Previously, Pakistan blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and nearly 1,000 other websites for about two weeks in 2010 May for blasphemous content.

A court in Pakistan banned Facebook in the year 2010 amid anger on such similar controversy. Two weeks later, the ban was lifted when Facebook blocked that particular page in Pakistan.

The Pakistani government stated it would continuously monitor other major websites also for anti-Islamic content and links.

The Facebook controversy in 2010 sparked protests in many parts of Pakistan. Many protests were by student members of major Islamic groups. Some protesters carried signs supporting holy war against the website for allowing the page.