03/17/2017, 10.26

Islamabad asks for help from Facebook to block online blasphemy

The Government asks for experts to track user comments. The social media giant, however, wants to protect the rights and privacy of its users. The unstated goal is to control the activities of dissidents, including the five intellectuals and bloggers kidnapped last month.


Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government in Islamabad has asked Facebook to collaborate in the fight against the blasphemous comments on its pages.

Yesterday, the Interior Ministry spokesman said that the social media giant has agreed to send a team of experts to investigate offensive remarks about Muhammad. But while the Pakistani authorities expect collaboration, the Facebook management is more cautious and has not confirmed the dispatch of experts.

Indeed, France Press reports that Facebook has only said it will consider Islamabad’s requests, always keeping in mind "the goal of protecting the privacy and the rights of our users."

The issue came to the fore this week when the High Court launched an investigation into the content published on social networks that might be offensive to religious feelings of Muslim believers. Specifically under review are the online activities of the five intellectuals and bloggers kidnapped in January and who reappeared after a month of imprisonment and torture.

Ever since the story of dissident intellectuals came to light, most likely made to disappear in order to silence their criticism of the extremist circles in the government and armed forces, critics complain about abuse of control by the authorities. Not only that, they often consider the accusation of blasphemy, which in Pakistan is punishable by the death penalty, is being used to suppress minorities.

The premier Nawaz Sharif has come out in support of the  judges investigation, stating that anyone who insults Mohammed "commits an unforgivable offense." Previously, however, he said that soon Pakistan will be "friend of minorities", enhancing dialogue and inter-religious harmony between the communities.

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