Pakistan blocks Wikipedia citing ‘blasphemous content’

Pakistan has blocked Wikipedia after the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia refused to remove content deemed to be “blasphemous” in the Muslim-majority nation.

Wikipedia had been blocked across the country on Friday “after it failed to respond to our repeated correspondence over the removal of the blasphemous content and meet the deadline,” said Malahat Obaid, a Spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, the PTA had given Wikipedia a 48-hour ultimatum to remove the material. It did not exactly mention its objections.

“They did remove some of the material but not all,” Obaid said. “It will remain blocked until they remove all the objectionable material.”

In response to the move, the Wikimedia Foundation – which runs Wikipedia – called on Islamabad to restore access to the website.

“A block of Wikipedia in Pakistan denies the 5th most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository,” it posted on Twitter on Saturday.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in the South Asian country. It had previously blocked social media giants Facebook and YouTube for publishing sacrilegious content.

Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after it carried a film about the Prophet Mohammed (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny) that led to mass protests across the Muslim world.

Pakistan has also blocked the video-sharing app, TikTok several times over “indecent” and “immoral” content in recent years.

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