'Draw Mohammed Day' prompts Pakistan Twitter ban (again)

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Pakistan once again blocked access to Twitter over the weekend because of concerns over blasphemy.

Once again, the block related to the Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page, this time apparently because people were tweeting about it.

The site was restored after about 12 hours. Interior Minister Rehman Malik claims responsibility for this, tweeting: "Dear All yes I spoke to PM and informed how people are feeling about it. PM ordered to reopen the twitter."

Two years ago, Pakistan blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites after a competition page was created calling on users to draw the prophet Mohammed - something many Muslims believe is expressly forbidden by Islam.

A year later, there was another short-lived block on the anniversary of the original competition.

But such blocks are getting harder and harder to implement, as users cotton on to how to use proxy servers to shield themselves and circumvent the ban.

During this one, thousands of users went online to protest what they saw as a pointless and ineffective ban that actually drew attention to what it was supposed to block.

Even Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, sent several tweets herself during the blackout. One follower told her: "Madam ambassador, your govt has just banned twitter. you may be violating some law by tweeting, me thinks."