- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Pakistan’s government has ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook after protests against a page that encourages users to draw the Prophet Mohammed. The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page was set up in response to Comedy Central’s decision last month to partially censor an episode of "South Park" depicting Mohammed in a bear costume:
The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order Wednesday requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.
In the southern city of Karachi, about 2,000 female students rallied demanding that Facebook be banned for tolerating the page. Several dozen male students held a rally nearby, with some holding signs urging Islamic holy war against those who blaspheme the prophet.
Pakistan’s minister of religious affairs says the ban is just a temporary measure and has suggested a conference of Muslims countries to figure out how to prevent publication of images of the prophet. Of course, in this case, they’re not banning publication of the image — the page seems to have been created in the U.S. — so much as preventing their citizens from having the ability to look at images published elsewhere. Seems like a losing battle.