Bangladesh blocks Facebook pages on religious grounds

Country to shut down five Facebook pages and unidentified Web site for posting blasphemous content, including remarks and cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed and Koran.

Bangladesh is blocking access to five Facebook pages and an unidentified Web site for posting blasphemous remarks and cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed, the Koran and other religious subjects.

According to an AFP report Thursday, a Bangladeshi court ordered telecom regulator Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, home ministry officials, as well as the police to block the pages immediately on religious grounds.

Nawshad Zamir, a lawyer representing petitioners who filed the suit, told the newswire that the pages contained "disparaging remarks and cartoons about Prophet Mohammed, the Muslim holy book of Koran, Jesus, Lord Buddha and Hindu gods".

"They mostly targeted the prophet and the Koran. These pages hurt the sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population and the followers of other religions. Some of the cartoons are very close to pornography," Nawshad added. The petition was filed by a Dhaka University teacher and the head of a law school, said AFP.

In mid-2010, the country blocked access to Facebook temporarily on religious grounds as well. However, this latest move marked the first time Bangladesh ordered a permanent block on Facebook pages, said AFP.

The government in January set up a cybercrime watchdog unit to monitor harmful content on the Internet and on mobile phones.


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