Pakistani officials ordered all national Internet service providers to ban Facebook and Youtube effective Wednesday, May 19, 2010. The ban was enacted because of a Facebook event entitled, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, in which Facebook members were encouraged to draw images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed on Thursday, May 20.
Pakistani Officials Block Access to Facebook and Youtube
According to the BBC, a group called the Islamic Lawyers Movement petitioned the Pakistani high court to request a ban on Facebook and Youtube. The ban was requested because of the group’s resistance to the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Event” in which thousands of Facebook users would draw the Muslim prophet Mohammed. The group insisted on the ban because most Muslim’s believe that any depiction of Mohammed is blasphemous.
The high court granted the ban and ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to immediately block all access to Facebook and Youtube. The court also instructed the Foreign Ministry to raise the issue of blasphemous caricatures to an international level. Though the sites are currently banned, the court will review the ban at the end of the month and consider if it should stand or be lifted.
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
The current ban resulted from the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” event started by a user on Facebook. Currently, over 80,000 Facebook users have joined the event and committed to drawing Mohammed on Thursday, May 20th. The event was initially created as a response to the censorship of the Comedy Central television show South Park.
During South Park’s 200th episode, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker depicted the Muslim prophet Mohammed in a bear suit. After the show aired, the website Revolutionmuslim.com posted a response to the episode, including a warning that Stone and Parker would end up like Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh. Theo Van Gogh was stabbed to death and nearly decapitated in 2004 by a radical Muslim extremist in reaction to his film “Submission”. The film criticized Islam’s treatment of women.
The Facebook event was created as a reaction to the warnings or death threats received by cartoonists and artists who have depicted Mohammed. The thought behind the page is that if more people draw Mohammed, less people will be singled out for death threats and warnings.
Though thousands have joined the event, many still feel that it is insensitive to those of the Muslim faith. The event page now contains comments, both moderate and offensive, from both sides of the issue. Though many object, the event is still being held today.