Monday, 21 May 2012

Twitter briefly blocked in Pakistan over "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" tweets

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In 2010, in South Park's 200th episode, creators Matt Stone and
Trey Parker satirised the censorship of Muhammad cartoons by
depicting the prophet in a bear mascot costume
Two years ago, controversy raged online over a campaign to promote 20 May as "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day", with people around the world urged to draw pictures of the prophet in protest at the censorship and attacks aimed against those who have produced such images. In particular, campaigners expressed their support for South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who experienced censorship by the Comedy Central network, and received death threats from online jihadists, after they satirised the issue in a 2010 episode of their hit show.

Yesterday, on the second anniversary of the first "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day", the campaign once again resurfaced, with messages appearing on Twitter urging people to participate. Back in 2010, protests in Pakistan prompted judges to temporarily block Facebook in the country, and Pakistani authorities seem to have taken similar measures this time around, with Twitter being blocked for around eight hours on Sunday.

According to a report in the Washington Post, it is not clear who in the Pakistani government gave the order for the site to be blocked, but the action quickly provoked a backlash among web users, human rights activists, and even government politicians. Farahnaz Ispahani, an MP and advisor to the country's president Asif Ali Zar­dari, took to Twitter to register her disapproval (such bans rarely succeed in totally blocking web services), stating that "Freedom of speech is an inviolable right”, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik later told reporters that the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, had instructed the Ministry of Information Technology to lift the ban.
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