Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube in a bid to contain “blasphemous” material, officials said on Thursday. The blockade came hours after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed Internet service providers to stop access to social network Facebook indefinitely on Wednesday because of an online competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad. Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider, said PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an “immediate” blockade of YouTube. “It was a serious instruction as they wanted us to do it quickly and let them know after that,” he told Reuters.

YouTube was also blocked in the Muslim country in 2007 for about a year for what it called un-Islamic videos. A PTA official, who declined to be identified, said the action was taken after the authority determined that some caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were transferred from Facebook to YouTube. Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims. Siraj said the blocking of the two websites would cut up to 25 percent of total Internet traffic in Pakistan.

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