Bangladesh blocks Facebook

 

Bangladesh has blocked the social networking website Facebook over a page urging people to draw images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, joining Pakistan to become the second South Asian nation to ban the popular site over religious concerns.

Chief telecommunication regulator Zia Ahmed said today that access to the site has been temporarily blocked because it was publishing caricatures that may hurt the religious sentiments of people in the Muslim-majority nation.

Mr Ahmed said the government had asked local Internet service providers to block the objectionable content, and that access to Facebook would be restored if the offending material was removed.

Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

Thousands of Muslims protested in Dhaka on Friday against what they called Facebook's "blasphemous content" because of a page called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" that encouraged users to post images of the prophet.

The ban disappointed some Facebook users, estimated by the Bangladesh ISP Association to number nearly 1 million in a country of 150 million people.

"The government should have stopped the objectionable page rather than blocking the entire site," Facebook user Farzan Hasan said.

Pakistan blocked Facebook on May 19 following a court order requiring the move. The court is to review the ban on Monday to determine whether access will be restored.

AP