Days after restricting site, Pakistan announced to unblock Wikipedia

HY News 07 February, 2023 02:06 pm IST

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Pakistan's prime minister on Monday ordered authorities to unblock Wikipedia, the government announced, just days after the online encyclopedia was restricted for "blasphemous content".

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and social media giants Facebook and YouTube have previously been banned for publishing content deemed sacrilegious.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted a copy of the order that stated: "The Prime Minister is pleased to direct that the website (Wikipedia) may be restored with immediate effect."

The Wikimedia Foundation -- the non-profit fund managing Wikipedia -- told AFP on Monday that it "was made aware that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) had been directed to restore access to Wikipedia" and hoped to see online traffic in Pakistan "resume soon."

Last week, the PTA gave Wikipedia 48 hours to remove content deemed "blasphemous", before it ultimately blocked the website. According to the order published Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had instructed a committee made up of three government ministers to examine the PTA's decision to block Wikipedia.

Pakistan blocked YouTube from 2012 to 2016 after it carried a film about the Prophet Mohammed that led to violent protests across the Muslim world. In recent years, the country has also blocked the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok several times over "indecent" and "immoral" content.

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