Foreign Policy Blogs

Pakistan Bans Facebook

Last month’s episode of South Park brought together religious leaders — known as the “Super Best Friends.” This group included Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and Moses was the Prophet Mohammed, who was hidden for most of the episode in a U-haul truck. Then, Mohammed appeared… dressed in a bear costume. The campaign (mentioned below) was to show solidarity with ‘South Park,’ whose creators received threats via after depicting the prophet in a bear suit — a result of conversations with Islamist watchdog groups — during the 200th episode.


“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show,” the posting reads on “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

Responding to a warning from a revolutionary website is one thing, but what should the response be to an entire nation voicing a similar opinion by shutting down Facebook? Do you think that Pakistan has overreacted?  Is this just a symptom of something much greater?

Here is an article from Al Jazeera further describing the situation:

Pakistan court orders Facebook ban

The ban on Facebook came into effect immediately after the court ruling. A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site Facebook after a user-generated contest page encourged members to post caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. The Lahore High Court on Wednesday instructed the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the site after the Islamic Lawyers Movement complained that a page called “Draw Mohammed Day” is blasphemous. Sajjad Chaudhry, the presiding judge, instructed officials with the ministry of telecommunications to submit a written reply to the ban by May 31 when courts will open a detailed hearing on the case. A ban is to be enforced in the meantime.  “We have already blocked the URL link and issued instruction to internet service providers,” Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson for the PTA, said. About 20 people carried banners outside of courthouse in Lahore, condemning Facebook and praising Prophet Mohammed.


Lawyers also petitioned the Pakistani government to register a strong protest with Facebook’s owners. “The competition has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims,” lawyer Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali said. Facebook users in Pakistan, however, told AFP they could still access the site after the ban was imposed on Wednesday. Officials with the Pakistani government told the court they had already blocked Facebook pages relating to the competition, but the lawyers group argued that no part of a site can be banned unless the entire site is blocked. Pakistan has 45 million Facebook users, according to lawyers. The Facebook page for “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” had just over 40,000 supporters while the opposing “Against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” had more than 53,000.