Connect with us


Pakistan blocks Wikipedia over 'blasphemous content'

Pakistan has blocked several major sites in the past.



Pakistan blocks Wikipedia over 'blasphemous content'
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Islamabad: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Saturday blocked Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, after the platform failed to take down content deemed to be "sacrilegious".

The Pakistani government has issued a warning to the online encyclopedia over "blasphemous content" on its site. 

On February 1, the nation’s telecom regulator said that it will block Wikipedia if it fails to take down content deemed to be blasphemous within 48 hours, without elaborating on the content in question.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said that it had approached Wikipedia to block or remove certain “blasphemous” content by issuing court orders, but the online encyclopedia neither complied nor appeared before the authority. 

In the meantime, Wikipedia has been "degraded", disrupting and slowing access to the free online encyclopedia, which gets billions of views each month.  

The website has previously faced restrictions on some of its pages.

According to a press release issued by PTA, it has degraded Wikipedia services in the country on account of not blocking/removing sacrilegious content from its platform. 

“Wikipedia was approached for blocking/removal of the said contents by issuing a notice under applicable law & court order(s). An opportunity for a hearing was also provided, however, the platform neither complied by removing the blasphemous content nor appeared before the Authority. Given the intentional failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of PTA, the services of Wikipedia have been degraded for 48 hours with the direction to block/remove the reported contents,” the notice said.

If the online encyclopedia fails to comply with the directions, the regulator will move to block the online encyclopedia within the country, it warned. 

Recently, Pakistan has taken action against the popular video-sharing app TikTok, blocking it multiple times for containing content that was deemed "indecent" and "immoral".

In the past, the country also blocked access to YouTube, from 2012 to 2016. This was due to the presence of a film about the Prophet Mohammed, which resulted in violent protests across the Muslim world.

It is pertinent to mention here that Wikipedia has been blocked in several countries for different reasons. The details for the blockages vary and include censorship of political content, concerns over national security, and objections to content that is deemed offensive or against cultural or religious norms.

Some countries that have blocked Wikipedia in the past include China, Iran and Turkey.  

In Turkey, the site was blocked in 2017 due to articles that alleged government links to terrorism. In China, Wikipedia has been blocked since 2004 due to censorship by the government. In Iran, the online site was intermittently blocked over the years due to its perceived promotion of Western values and anti-Islamic content. 

However, in many cases, the blocks are temporary and eventually lifted. In other cases, users have found ways to bypass the blocks and access the site.