The Pakistani government banned Twitter for eight hours on Sunday before the Prime Minister intervened and ordered service to be restored, The Washington Post reports.
The ban was handed down to the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan because of Twitter’s refusal to remove “blasphemous” content from their site, namely, tweets encouraging people to participate in the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, where people create their own depictions of Prophet Mohammed (which aren’t allowed by Islam). It’s unclear why the government lifted the ban.
The ban quickly became a farce. Interior Minister Rehman Malik initially tweeted:
Dear all, I assure u that Twitter and FB will continue in our countryand it will not be blocked. Pl do not believe in rumours.
— Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) May 19, 2012
Malik had to backtrack later when it was banned. Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Sherry Rehman, posted several tweets until it was pointed out she may be violating the ban.
Many of the country’s six million Twitter users were also able to use their smartphones and various software that disguised their location to circumvent the ban. Author Kamila Shamsie tweeted:
Everyone with a twitter account in Pakistan is tweeting about the just-implemented Twitter ban in Pakistan. #GetAGripGOP
— Kamila Shamsie (@kamilashamsie) May 20, 2012
Meanwhile columnist Marvi Sirmed griped:
The fact that despite their “Twitter Ban”, we are still tweeting from Pakistan, should tell them how stupid it is to censor internet
— Marvi Sirmed (@marvisirmed) May 20, 2012
Pakistan had previously banned 1,000 sites, including YouTube and Facebook for hosting content connected to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, according to Reuters. Facebook took down the “objectionable” content in May 2010.
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