After Pakistan, Bangladesh has now blocked social networking site Facebook for hosting pages featuring blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammad and “obnoxious” images of the country’s leaders.
No official announcement was made yet on the decision but the Daily Star newspaper quoted an unnamed Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission official as saying that “part of the reason (of blocking the network) is the posting of some anti-religious and porn links by users across the globe”.
“We have blocked all access to Facebook temporarily… It was done in line with a decision of government high-ups,” the official said, adding some users had posted anti-Islamic content about Prophet Mohammad, which the government took seriously.
Earlier, the state-run BSS news agency on Saturday said that the BTRC action came hours after elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion troops arrested a “cyber criminal” in the city on charges of posting “objectionable, disfigured and satirical photographs” of several government leaders using different accounts.
Leaders of several right-wing Islamic groups have demanded a ban on the networking website for posting of materials hurting Muslim religious sentiments.
Users suddenly were barred from logging into the network since 6.30 pm last evening while in a late-night development a group of Dhaka University students took to the streets to protest the government’s decision.
The protesters dubbed the move radical and said the government should have blocked individual profiles rather than the entire site.
Pakistan has also banned Facebook over a page featuring a contest for “blasphemous” cartoons of Prophet.
According to a report, BTRC earlier directed internet data service handlers Mango Telecom and Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd to find a way to block antisocial contents posted by Facebook users.
But the two companies failed to fix the problem, which prompted the government to block the entire network.
“The access to Facebook will resume when the operators find a way to block such anti-social contents,” the report said quoting an official.
In March last year, the government blocked the video sharing website YouTube for hosting a recorded conversation between the prime minister and army officers after the BDR carnage. More than 10 lakh people use the internet in Bangladesh.
Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous and the row sparked comparison with protests across the Muslim world over the publication of satirical cartoons of Mohammad in European newspapers in 2006.