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Pakistan court lifts Facebook ban

The Lahore High Court (LHC) Monday ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) [official websites] to restore access to the Facebook [corporate website] social networking website. The LHC had blocked access [JURIST report] to the website earlier this month, in response to a page created by a Facebook user which marked "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" [website], encouraging users to submit religiously-prohibited images of the Prophet Mohammed. LHC Judge Ijaz Chaudry said that the government, and not the court, should be responsible for blocking offensive internet content and called on the PTA to create a centralized system [AFP report] to block blasphemous content.

Depicting the Prophet Mohammad is considered blasphemous by Muslims, and has been a source of international controversy since 2005 when a Danish newspaper published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a series of cartoons [JURIST news archive]. After protests in many Muslim countries, lawsuits were filed against those who published or reprinted the cartoons in Yemen, France, and Jordan [JURIST reports]. Earlier this month, a Danish public prosecutor for the Utrecht District Court filed an appeal [JURIST report] against an April ruling [JURIST report] acquitting the Arab European League (AEL) of hate speech charges stemming from posting an inflammatory cartoon on their website insinuating that the Holocaust was fabricated. The court ruled that publishing the cartoon was not a criminal offense because it was intended to be a contribution to public debate regarding a perceived double standard in the distribution of the Danish Mohammad cartoons. In April, US citizen David Headley pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 12 counts of federal terrorism, including charges related to an alleged plot against the Danish creator and publishers of the controversial cartoons.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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