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Bangladesh government lifts Facebook ban after removal of Muhammad caricatures

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission [official website] announced Sunday that the agency has lifted a ban against Facebook [website] after the social networking site agreed to remove content depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The commission blocked access to Facebook [BBC report] last week in response to objectionable caricatures of the Prophet that surfaced on the service, causing outrage among the nation's majority Muslim population. The government later blocked access to YouTube, Wikipedia and Flickr [websites] as the images became more viral. The further restrictions led to the arrest of a man in Dhaka for uploading images. He has since been charged with spreading malice and insulting the country's leaders.

Last month, a Pakistan high court briefly blocked Facebook [JURIST report] in response to a page created by a Facebook user which marked "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" [website] The page encouraged users to submit religiously-prohibited images of the Prophet. A few weeks later the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) [official websites] to restore access to Facebook [JURIST report], holding 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 Muhammad is considered blasphemous by Muslims, and has been a source of international controversy since 2005 when a Danish newspaper published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a series of cartoons [JURIST news archive].

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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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