WASHINGTON – Facebook has capitulated to the Pakistani government’s demand that the social media giant block what the Islamic republic considers “blasphemous” content, and, according to the country’s Interior Ministry, has already removed 85 percent of it.
And Pakistan is only the first Islamic country to make the demand and is working with 27 other Muslim countries to make similar demands, reports Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
Pakistan is in the midst of a series of arrests and prosecutions for posting so-called “blasphemous” content – an offense that carries the death penalty.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman Ismael Shah said a team, comprising 25 members, has been working to search blasphemous content online. He said that the authority has so far taken action against 40 such pages.
He said the Facebook administration has realized the issue and “assured to comply with our demand.”
“Facebook agreeing to our demands is a big achievement,” the PTA chief said.
It didn’t take long for Facebook to comply with Pakistan’s request.
The government had approached Facebook in early March regarding access to the records of three controversial pages accused of spreading blasphemous content. Facebook in its reply had said it is aware of the government’s reservations and that it wants to resolve the issue via bilateral dialogue and mutual understanding.
Facebook management had also decided to send a delegation to Pakistan for investigating content which the government considers to be blasphemous.
“Who would have thought that Facebook would work with the government of Pakistan to enforce Shariah blasphemy laws?” asked David Wood of AnsweringIslam.org. “Yeah, me too,” he said sardonically in a YouTube posting.
Wood believes the next step by Facebook management will be to turn over the identities of those charged with blasphemy offenses in Pakistan.