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IHC wants blasphemous content on social media blocked

Updated Mar 08, 2017 09:05am


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ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday urged religious scholars to jointly deal with the issue of blasphemous content on social media.

The court observed that the bureaucracy had apparently failed to tackle such a sensitive issue which sometimes resulted in the murder of alleged blasphemers.

The judge, who was one of the authors of the verdict which upheld the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, remarked that if the government machinery did not stop blasphemous content from reaching citizens, people like Mumtaz Qadri would continue to take the law into their own hands.

Judge says if govt does not restrict such content, more Mumtaz Qadris would take the law into their own hands

Hearing a petition seeking the blockade of blasphemous contents and hate material on the social media, Justice Siddiqui directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to appear before the court.

The court noted: “This matter requires immediate attention otherwise patience of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) may run out.”

Inspector General of Islamabad Police Tariq Masood Yasin said he was ready to take action if the court passed an order.

“This is a greatest form of terrorism and people involved in this heinous act are biggest terrorists,” the court observed, referring to the publication of blasphemous content and hate material on social media.

“It is shameful that delicate and sensitive matter in hand remained unattended by the executive of the country. It is also painful that the interior secretary did not bother to appear before the court and preferred to attend some office meeting.”

On Feb 27, the bench had directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block pages or websites containing blasphemous material.

On Tuesday, Secretary Ministry of Information Technology Rizwan Bashir Khan, PTA Chairman Syed Ismail Shah, SSP (operations) Sajid Mehmood Kiani and officers of the Federal Investigation Agency appeared before the court. The petitioner adopted that the pages and videos against the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and revered personalities had not been blocked by the respondents nor any step taken so far. As a result, the culprits were encouraged and fearlessly opening more pages using different names.

The petitioner claimed that religious people had demanded registration of cases against those responsible for uploading the blasphemous contents and hate material.

The court will take up the case again on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2017


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Comments (25) Closed

JA-Australia Mar 08, 2017 09:17am

France and Germany have very strict laws around content deemed anti-Semitic. It is also a criminal offence to deny the Holocaust and Armenian genocide in many Western European countries. Most developed countries, including Australia, have laws against racial and religious vilification.

There is nothing wrong with blasphemy laws if they are framed properly, and there are safeguards to ensure they are not abused for frivolous or personal reasons.

JKhan Mar 08, 2017 09:22am

Yes your Honour.

quinn Mar 08, 2017 09:32am

Right... block the content rather than prevent people from taking the law into their own hands... very wise statement 'judge'

ashar Mar 08, 2017 09:53am

please close complete social media , we were very happy when these things were not present.

Imad Qureshi Mar 08, 2017 09:50am

Honorable Judge. I have blocked all such defamatory sites in my home. I developed that technology myself and don't need government to intervene or do anything. When I see something that's offensive to me or my religious beliefs, I simply block it, close the website and never visit again. I don't ask government to do anything. This is the same technology I have used since 2010 or even before to block Amir Liaquat.

Gk Mar 08, 2017 10:03am

What is this? Going back to middle ages? How can someone take the law into their hands?

JAmil Mar 08, 2017 10:31am

Yes rightly pointed out by the Court, We should also limit the use of media.

Arun-KS Mar 08, 2017 10:55am

There are good and bad things around us. Responsibility of the way we react lies with us. We cannot start killing persons we do not like. We cannot change the world but we will have to change ourselves to adjust with it. We need to teach ourselves how to perceive & react with our surrounding environment.

merit Mar 08, 2017 10:54am

Social Media is heaven for Social Losers.

Imtiaz Mahmood Mar 08, 2017 11:21am

@ashar Mars is the place to live without access to social media, but going there and living takes some doing.

TsiOfd Mar 08, 2017 11:33am

Targeting the symptom instead of the disease?

Rajesh Mar 08, 2017 11:50am

One who actually follows the religion, he/she won't get deviated by any written/ pictures content against one's beliefs. Ignorants are the one who writes against particular religious beliefs. Believers should tackle ignorants peacefully. But here ignorants are winning, they know believers are superficial and can be manipulated.

zs Mar 08, 2017 11:47am

Very good decission by Islamabad High Court. Very important points.

Asif Ali Mar 08, 2017 12:06pm

Let give some freedom to people what they want to saw or not, If they don't want to saw something simply close that site, dont impose any thing on freedom of a citizen, they are matured adult.prevent people from taking the law, it is duty of goverment.

sherryaar Mar 08, 2017 12:19pm

@Gk if u think this is going back to middle ages then so be it .. we will not tolerate anyone to show insulting things about our religion. anyone opposing this idea should be dealt with iron hands it does not matter if he is muslim, hindu or any one else.. stop this nonsense once and for all !!

Princess_of_DHUMP Mar 08, 2017 12:22pm

Can someone teach Hon'able judge how to use the internet so that he can understand that you can block a website but you cannot immediately block tonnes of facebook pages, twitter handles and millions of differnet kind of blogs? Why look up something which is offensive in the first place?

shereen Mar 08, 2017 12:32pm

@Imad Qureshi I so wish brother than everyone in my country could be as sensible as you.

imdadali Mar 08, 2017 12:33pm

Observation made by honorable judge of IHC is logical. Govt should come forward to control this in the public and govt interest.

Shah (Berlin) Mar 08, 2017 12:49pm

@Imad Qureshi

Excellent reply...

A pakistani Mar 08, 2017 01:27pm

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui is the man who recently issued a ban on Valentine’s Day.

You cannot block all the hate material on the internet but what you can do is educate people to ignore things they find distasteful.

The end is near Mar 08, 2017 01:48pm

Just do it.

M.Saeed Mar 08, 2017 03:19pm

@Imad Qureshi: Wonderful. Why don't you explain your method here for us to do the same?

Imad Qureshi Mar 08, 2017 08:03pm

@M.Saeed Only if you red the whole thing. I have explained. I have also blocked you, using same technology.

Amir iqbal Mar 09, 2017 12:55am

After PSL, just as I was thinking that MAYBE, just MAYBE we are on slow but much needed path towards reduction of secterianims & extremism...the High-Court (of all places) of Islamabad comes out with this Googly.

Sad, this state of affairs is.

a khan Mar 09, 2017 04:49am

And we have entrusted these people to provide justice to us.