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Pakistan frees Facebook 'Mohammed' page... Bangladesh blocks it

Facebook agrees to hide material considered derogatory

The Lahore High Court in Pakistan yesterday ordered Facebook to be unblocked in the country, after the government said that the website had promised to make material considered derogatory inaccessible to users in Pakistan.

Facebook was ordered to be blocked by the Lahore court on May 19 after a lawyers' organisation filed a petition objecting to a page on the website called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" which invited users to draw cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.

Depictions of the Prophet are prohibited in some Islamic traditions.

Facebook has meanwhile run into trouble in neighbouring Bangladesh where the site has been blocked since Sunday, after the government objected to content offensive to the Prophet on Facebook.

Facebook has agreed to block the page in Pakistan, and apologised for it, Naguibullah Malik, Pakistan's secretary of IT and telecom, said in a telephone interview on Monday. Malik said he had already issued the appropriate orders for unblocking Facebook in Pakistan.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment on the recent developments, but a spokeswoman for the Web site had earlier indicated that the company "may consider IP blocking in Pakistan upon further review of local regulations, standards and customs".

Access to the page has already been blocked by Facebook in India, at the request of local authorities, Facebook said last week.

Besides Facebook, YouTube was also blocked in Pakistan on May 20 for "sacrilegious" content. Over 450 links on the Internet were also blocked, Pakistan's telecommunications regulator, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), said on May 20.

The block on YouTube was relaxed last week after the cabinet of Pakistan decided to unblock both Facebook and YouTube, while continuing to block content it considered offensive on these sites. The unblocking of Facebook was delayed until the decision of the Lahore court.

See also: How to use Facebook safely

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