In a move that surprised many Pakistan officials, Twitter access was blocked in the country for eight hours yesterday. The Washington Post reports that Pakistan telecommunications regulators took down access to the microblogging service because the latter would not remove content that was objectionable to Muslims. The content in question, allegedly encouraged Twitter users in the country to participate in “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day”, a movement that started two years ago and is offensive to Muslims who consider depictions of the Islam prophet to be blasphemous. The campaign started two years ago by a Facebook user who made a page to encourage free speech by telling other users to draw Muhammed. A court in Pakistan ordered the blocking of that Facebook page when it was set up.
Pakistan blocks Twitter then unblocks it
The blocking of Twitter, suprised many Pakistani politicians, lawmakers and officials, many of whom use Twitter regularly. Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister said that Twitter would not be blocked, however, was later surprised to find that access had in fact been cut off. While it has not been specified exactly who in the government ordered the access cut off, the Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Mohammad Yaseen said that the decision wasn't simple and that it was a high-level decision. Citizens, however, were able to send some tweets during the shut off by downloading third party software and using their smartphones.
Facebook has agreed to co-operate with Pakistan to consistently block the “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” in Pakistan, however, Yaseen says that Twitter has refused to co-operate and therefore the Ministry of Information Technology ordered service providers to block Twitter. Citizen users of Twitter were not too pleased with the cut off and many of them tweeted their dissatisfaction. A human rights activist, Marvi Sirmed said in a tweet, “The fact that despite their ‘Twitter Ban’, we are still tweeting from Pakistan, should tell them how stupid it is to censor [the] internet.” Around eight hours after the ban, Pakistan's Prime Minister ordered the reversal of the ban.