A Pakistani court on Monday directed authorities to restore access to Facebook nearly two weeks after blocking the popular social networking website for hosting a page with blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. “Restore Facebook. We don’t want to block access to information,” Justice Ijaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court said.
He adjourned the proceedings till June 15 and said he would review his decision on that date.
“I am not closing this case,” the judge said. The judge asked Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik to tell the court on June 15 whether any websites, including Facebook, had again uploaded any blasphemous material.
Malik informed the court that the Pakistan government had registered a protest over the blasphemous and sacrilegious content posted on Facebook with the US, where the website has its headquarters.
US authorities had agreed with Pakistan that the hosting of such material on a website is a “crime,” Malik said.
An assurance had been given to Pakistan that something similar would not happen again, he added.
The Islamic Lawyers Movement, which filed the petition that led to the blocking of Facebook and other sites hosting blasphemous content, protested the court’s decision.
The judge remarked that if any websites hosted blasphemous content, they would again be blocked.
Justice Chaudhry had directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on May 19 to block Facebook over “blasphemous” caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
Authorities subsequently extended the crackdown to other websites.
In Islamabad, Wahaj-us-Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan told PTI that about 1,200 URLs continued to be blocked to prevent access to blasphemous and sacrilegious content.
He said the ISPs would restore access to Facebook as soon as they received an order from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.