Pakistan restores Twitter after ban over 'offensive content'

A Pakistani resident browses a newspaper website on Sunday, after the country's government blocked access to Twitter.

Story highlights

  • Pakistan blocks Twitter for much of Sunday over content considered offensive to Muslims
  • Tweets related to Facebook competition to post images of prophet Muhammad
  • Move comes after Facebook was blocked for two weeks in 2010

Pakistan has restored access to Twitter after blocking the popular social networking site over the posting of content it deemed an affront to Muslims, Pakistan's telecom authority said Monday.

Mohammed Younis, the authority's director of public relations, said Twitter was blocked on Sunday morning because of "some material considered to be offensive to the Muslim community," but access was restored by Sunday evening.

A spokesperson for Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology told CNN that Twitter was blocked because the site did not remove links and references to a competition taking place on Facebook to post images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

"The government is in contact with Twitter and had asked them to remove the material. When they didn't, it was decided that the site would be blocked," said ministry spokesman Naveed Ahmed.

Pakistan blocked Facebook in May 2010 in response to a similar contest that called on people to draw depictions of Mohammed.

Death threats over Iranian rapper's work
Death threats over Iranian rapper's work

    JUST WATCHED

    Death threats over Iranian rapper's work

MUST WATCH

Death threats over Iranian rapper's work 02:42
Acid attacks on the rise in Pakistan
Acid attacks on the rise in Pakistan

    JUST WATCHED

    Acid attacks on the rise in Pakistan

MUST WATCH

Acid attacks on the rise in Pakistan 02:30
What Pakistanis want from the U.S.
What Pakistanis want from the U.S.

    JUST WATCHED

    What Pakistanis want from the U.S.

MUST WATCH

What Pakistanis want from the U.S. 02:40

The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page offended many Pakistanis as Islam discourages any visual representation of God or prophets like Mohammed.

Younis said it was the IT ministry's decision to reverse the ban but he could not confirm whether Twitter had removed the tweets deemed offensive.

However, he said Facebook had responded to requests to remove controversial content in Sunday's case. No-one from the ministry or Twitter was available for comment.

Facebook confirmed that it had restricted access to some content on its site in Pakistan after a request from the authorities.

"While we do not remove this type of content from the site entirely unless it violates our Statement of Rights and responsibilities, out of respect for local laws, traditions and cultures, we may occasionally restrict its visibility in the countries where it is illegal, as we have done in this case," Facebook said in an emailed statement.

Twitter is hugely popular in Pakistan, with a reported six million account holders, including public figures such as politicians, singers and sports stars. Exiled former president Pervez Musharraf is on Twitter, as is Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician.

It seemed many users were able to get around Sunday's outage.

"The fact that despite their 'Twitter Ban', we are still tweeting from Pakistan, should tell them how stupid it is to censor internet," tweeted Marvi Sirmed, a Pakistani columnist and human rights activist with 21,973 followers.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.