ISLAMABAD (dpa) – Pakistan will continue to ban YouTube indefinitely, more than two years after it blocked the video-sharing website for hosting a movie deemed insulting to Islam, an official said Sunday.
Pakistan Supreme Court ordered the government to block YouTube in September 2012 after the Innocence of Muslims movie was uploaded on it, sparking violent protests across the Islamic world.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has since been trying to block the movie, in a bid to restore access to the website, but a minister on Friday said there had been no headway in these efforts.
“The matter was reviewed several times but the situation effectively remains the same,” Information Technology Minister Anusha Rehman told the Parliament. “We fear there will be protests if the YouTube is unblocked without removing the blasphemous movie,” a telecommunication official told dpa on Sunday, seeking not to be named.
The ban has drawn criticism from free speech activists and student unions, who called for immediate restoration to help researchers.
“Technology should not be linked with the religion,” said Furhan Hussain, an internet rights activist of the Bytes for All advocacy group based in the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani authorities have in the past tried to block online content and social networking websites for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in the Islamic republic. In November 2011, the telecommunications authority tried to ban nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages.
In 2010, Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over its hosting of allegedly blasphemous pages. It continues to restrict thousands of online links.