Skip to main content

Pakistan restores Twitter after ban over 'offensive content'

By Katie Hunt, for CNN
updated 4:16 AM EDT, Mon May 21, 2012
A Pakistani resident browses a newspaper website on Sunday, after the country's government blocked access to Twitter.
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

(CNN) -- 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.

Death threats over Iranian rapper's work
Acid attacks on the rise in Pakistan
What Pakistanis want from the U.S.

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

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.

Reza Sayah contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
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.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
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.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
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.
ADVERTISEMENT