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Pakistan bans Wikipedia for refusing to remove ‘blasphemous’ content

February 6, 2023 at 10:17 am

Photo illustration of the Wikipedia logo [Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has banned Wikipedia for not complying with a request to remove content deemed “blasphemous” from the site.

“Wikipedia has been blocked across the country after failing to comply with our repeated request to remove unlawful content,” PTA spokesperson Malahat Obaid was quoted as saying, adding that “the decision can be reviewed once Wikipedia removes sacrilegious content that has been identified by the regulatory authority.”

The decision came after the PTA gave Wikipedia until Friday to remove the content in question.

Responding to the move, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the site, said that “the blocking prevents the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population from accessing the largest free source of knowledge”, which will also deny the world access to Pakistani knowledge, history and culture.

In early February, PTA announced that access to Wikipedia had been slowed over its failure to remove “blasphemous” content, stressing that the site would be banned in Pakistan for a long time if the content is not removed.

Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after the site published a film about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which led to widespread protests in various Muslim countries.

Pakistan has also in recent years banned the popular video-sharing app TikTok in protest of inappropriate and immoral content.

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