May 31, 2010
Two weeks ago we reported that Facebook was banned from Pakistan, losing nearly 45 million users. The ban occurred after the group “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day!” remained on the site after drawing outrage from the Muslim community. It’s considered a punishable offense to draw pictures of Mohammad under Islamic belief and Facebook had refused to remove the group.
A lower Pakistani court issued the original ban which was a temporary block put into place until May 31st, at which time a final decision on the sites existence in the country would be determined if Facebook didn’t take the necessary steps to remove the offensive material.
The Facebook team chose to apologize to the Pakistan community and the material was removed from within the country. It’s also believed that the group may have been removed from several other Islamic countries, although several draw Mohammad groups can still be found when searching from within the United States.
The location based restriction is a nice move for Facebook which allows them to keep freedom of speech in place in the United States, while offering a sympathetic stance for Islamic countries.
Lawyer Azhar Siddique told Reuters:
“The government has assured the court on behalf of the website that the blasphemous material would not be seen in Pakistan.”
Siddique works with the Islamic Lawyers Forum, the group which called for the ban against Facebook.
What are your thoughts on a regional ban? Do you believe religious attacks on the site should be removed from all regions or did Facebook take the right stance in allowing the material to remain in non-Islamic countries?