A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site Facebook after a user-generated contest page encourged members to post caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday instructed the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the site after the Islamic Lawyers Movement complained that a page called “Draw Mohammed Day” is blasphemous.
Sajjad Chaudhry, the presiding judge, instructed officials with the ministry of telecommunications to submit a written reply to the ban by May 31 when courts will open a detailed hearing on the case. A ban is to be enforced in the meantime.
"We have already blocked the URL link and issued instruction to internet service providers,” Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson for the PTA, said.
About 20 people carried banners outside of courthouse in Lahore, condemning Facebook and praising Prophet Mohammed.
Lawyers also petitioned the Pakistani government to register a strong protest with Facebook’s owners.
"The competition has hurt the sentiments of the Muslims," lawyer Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali said.
Facebook users in Pakistan, however, told AFP they could still access the site after the ban was imposed on Wednesday.
Officials with the Pakistani government told the court they had already blocked Facebook pages relating to the competition, but the lawyers group argued that no part of a site can be banned unless the entire site is blocked.
Pakistan has 45 million Facebook users, according to lawyers.
The Facebook page for "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" had just over 40,000 supporters while the opposing "Against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" had more than 53,000.