Published:  12:00 AM, 18 March 2017

Pakistan tackles Facebook on blasphemy

Pakistan tackles Facebook on blasphemy Protests urging authorities to block social media sites spreading blasphemy have been held in Pakistan

Pakistan says it has asked Facebook to help investigate "blasphemous content" posted on the social network by Pakistanis, reports BBC. Facebook has agreed to send a team to Pakistan to address reservations about content on the social media site, according to the interior ministry.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive and incendiary issue in Pakistan. Critics say blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty in some cases, are often misused to oppress minorities. Earlier this week Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif voiced his support for a wide-ranging crackdown on blasphemous content on social media.

In a statement on his party's official Twitter account, he described blasphemy as an "unpardonable offence". Then on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar reasserted Pakistan's determination to tackle the issue, saying he would take "any steps necessary" to make sure Pakistan's message got across.

He said he had asked officials to liaise with the FBI in the US and with social media platforms on a daily basis. "Facebook and other service providers should share all information about the people behind this blasphemous content with us," he is quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

There has been little official description of what blasphemous content has been found online so far, but in the past blasphemy accusations have ranged from depictions of the Prophet Muhammad to critiques and inappropriate references to the Koran.

But some critics say that this latest move is simply a way of cracking down on dissent. When five liberal bloggers and activists recently went missing, they were accused of blasphemy on social media. It is a very serious allegation in the deeply conservative nation, which can make those accused of it a target of public anger.

In Pakistan there is a growing popular resentment to this so-called "blasphemous content" on social media, especially on Facebook. People are often openly accused of "committing blasphemy on social media". One top security agency has openly urged the masses to report anyone who is involved in posting such material online.




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