Pakistan blocks bloggers

From the BBC, March 3:

Pakistan telecom authorities have blocked several websites inviting people to draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, it has emerged.

Instructions were issued to internet service providers across Pakistan on 27 February to block about a dozen websites of various origins.

The ban comes amid protests in several Muslim countries against the cartoons, first published in Denmark last year.

Islamic tradition prohibits caricatures of the Prophet.

Hosted site

Bloggers in Pakistan became first became aware of the ban on 28 February when they were unable to access a popular blog hosting site, Blogspot.

One of the blocked sites is hosted on Blogspot, which led to the blocking of all web journals hosted on the site.

The Pakistan bloggers found their blogs blocked, even though their blogs are not connected with the cartoons.

They say they have still been able to edit and update their blogs, but not able to read them.

Many are using anonymizers – a service which allows people to surf sites without being identified – to access their sites, while the US blogging community has sent out suggestions for ways in which Blogspot can be accessed.

Meanwhile, it turns out a US diplomat is among the dead in yesterday’s bomb blast in Karachi, and protesters clog the streets throughout the country as Bush arrives. From SBS:

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in major cities to protest against Mr Bush’s visit.

They chanted “Bush go home” and threw stones in their attempt to reach the US consulate.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd.

Business owners pulled down their shutters and public transport was halted across Pakistan after Islamic hardliners called a strike.

It was led by the main alliance of religious parties still angry over controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

Opposition parties vowed to boycott an official banquet held in Bush’s honour.

Key ally

Before leaving New Delhi after a three-day visit, Bush hailed
Pakistan as “an important friend” of the United States.

“I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan’s vital cooperation in the war on terror and our effort to foster economic and political development so we could reduce the appeal of radical Islam,” Mr Bush said.

Of course, nothing will increase the appeal of radical Islam faster than Bush declaring Musharraf “an important friend.”

See our last post on Pakistan.