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Pakistan court reimposes ban on YouTube for offensive content

A Pakistani court on Wednesday reimposed a ban on the video sharing network YouTube [official website] after content deemed offensive to Muslims resurfaced on the website when a previous ban was lifted last month. The court also restricted access to Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, Google, Islam Exposed, In The Name Of Allah, Amazon and Bing [official websites]. The court ordered the ban [Reuters report] after evidence of content on the websites regarding the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran was presented at a hearing. Depicting the Prophet Muhammad is considered blasphemous by Muslims, who make up the overwhelming majority of the population in Pakistan. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) [official website] stated that it has not yet received official notice of the ban, but will block the websites once the order is received.

Last month, a Pakistan high court briefly blocked Facebook [JURIST report] in response to a page created by a Facebook user marking "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 PTA to restore access to Facebook [JURIST report], holding that the government, and not the court, should be responsible for blocking offensive internet content and calling 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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