Pakistan's Blog Blockade

"Americans will support the Pakistani people as they take further steps toward democracy," declared President Bush at a state dinner in Pakistan last Saturday.

One of those steps, say two Pakistani bloggers, would be to restore the country's access a huge number of blogs on the Internet. As Bush spoke, Pakistan's Internet service providers (ISP) were blocking Pakistanis from viewing of many blogs on the grounds that a handful of them displayed the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that many Muslims regard as blasphemous.

The Pakistani Telecommunications Authority instituted the blog blockade on the orders of the Supreme Court , according to the Pakistani daily Dawn.

"Instructions were issued to internet service providers across Pakistan on 27 February to block about a dozen websites of various origins," the BBC reported last week. Some of these sites were Web logs hosted by the U.S. firm Blogger (which is owned by Google) and uses the blogspot.com extension on its Web addresses.

Under pressure from the government, Pakistani providers wound up blocking access not only to the 12 offending cartoon sites , but to all Blogspot Web logs. In protest, Dr. Awab Alvi, an orthodontist in Karachi, and Omer Alvie (no relation), a political humorist based in Dubai, launched a Don't Block the Blog campaign.

In an e-mail interview, Dr. Alvi says that until now, Pakistani bloggers had not come under attack. Ironically, Alvi had used his own blog to call for peaceful protest against the Danish cartoons , saying they were the culmination of five years of anti-Muslim agitation since the September 11 attack. His blog, Teeth Maestro, was not blocked.

In a separate interview, blogger Alvie writes that his blog, Olive Ream, remains blocked and that the blockade is affecting "hundreds of other blogs that were actually protesting (in the most civil and logical way) the printing of the controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammad, considering the current global political climate."

As of Wednesday morning, both bloggers said computer users in a Pakistan remained unable to directly access a blog hosted on Blogspot without the use of so-called anonymizer sites, which conceal a user's country of origin. A spokesman for Google said the company "has been contacting a range of individuals in Pakistan, including in the government, to determine what's causing the unavailability of Blogspot, and to get access restored."

Postscript: One lingering question is just how many blogs are getting blocked by Pakistan. A solid estimate is hard to come by, but a Google spokeswoman says Blogspot hosts "millions" of Web logs.

By Jefferson Morley |  March 8, 2006; 10:02 AM ET  | Category:  Asia , Press Freedom
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Comments

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I am a Pakistani blogger and I would like to add that it is indeed a sad state of affairs that all blogs have been banned, including two of my own.

That said, I hope the higher authorities will realize that Internet censorship is an exercise in futility and anonymous surfing is now the norm. That's not to say we condone the cartoons.

Hoping that the ban will soon be lifted.

Posted by: HA | March 8, 2006 11:35 AM

Don't support the "Don't Block the Blog" campaign. It supports blocking blogs that they think are "blasphemous." They are only complaining about their own blogs being blocked. They do not support free speech.

Posted by: Brian | March 8, 2006 12:52 PM

Two Good Issues are raised here:

1) Bush declaring that Americans would support Pakistan---I don't care if he is the my president, he is clearly out of touch. I don't know a single contractor over here that his statement is true about. Quite the opposite.

2)Pakistan is trying to realize an Islamic state - one of the most basic parts of that is the lack of individuality and free will. It's only natural that they will control the individuals access to information.

Posted by: --TBAS | March 8, 2006 12:58 PM

I don't support any countries who's CITIZENS and GOVERNMENT advocate that all who create, publish and/or look at the Mohammed cartoons should face a firing squad.

From Plus + Ultra:
http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=979

Posted by: Brian | March 8, 2006 01:39 PM

Google offers filtered version of its' search engine to China, and now Google-owned Blogspot blogs are blocked in Pakistan. Google "has been contacting a range of individuals in Pakistan, including in the government, to determine what's causing the unavailability of Blogspot, and to get access restored." Does anyone beside me see the ironic twist in this?

Posted by: Dude | March 8, 2006 01:40 PM

How Pakistanis can get around the block:

http://www.jihadthisfilth.com/blogger-ban-in-pakistan-a-guide-to-getting-around-it/

Posted by: Brian | March 8, 2006 01:45 PM

Pakistan should not be on the net, let alone blogs. They should all join the Madrassas and detonate a few nukes in every major city, that would get rid off vermin running rampant in this world.

My advice to youngsters is - there is more fun in Madrassas, even more fun with Nukes and how about them 64 virgins.

So - Please go knock your self out. Go to Khahuta, they are giving away free
20 kiloton nukes.

Posted by: Hindustani | March 8, 2006 02:07 PM

An important part of this story is the fact that members of the Pakistani government, and their lawyers, are arguing that Pakistanis who manage to find their way around the ban and look at the blasphemous websites should be tried and executed for blasphemy themselves. So, they say, should any government official who has not done his "utmost" to prevent such a thing from happening. But more than that, they want to extradite the owners of the blasphemous websites and have them executed also. These lawyers believe that there are already existing treaties with the US and Europe which entitle them to do this, and they are also seeking to create a more expansive "international law against blasphemy." Sounds crazy, but they actually think they can do it. They are convening the Pakistani Supreme Court on March 13 to debate these subjects.

Read this, entitled "Islamabad Supreme Court condemns Plus Ultra and the Blaspheming 12 ™": http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=973

And also this, entitled "If you are reading this from Pakistan right now …": http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=979

Posted by: Tracy | March 8, 2006 02:55 PM

Sadly when South Asians get involvent in any discussion, it is illogical and thus does not warrant support. Reading through the comments on this post, anyone can see that most of the people are taking from hatred for one or the other, it has been a pointless discussion on a good post that should have generated intellegent comments.
http://Pakistani-abysmal-ramblings.blogspot.com

Posted by: Destitute Rebel | March 8, 2006 03:38 PM

Destitute Rebel,

Actually, I had no problem with the intelligence level of the comments until I read this:
___________________________________________

"Sadly when South Asians get involvent in any discussion, it is illogical and thus does not warrant support."
___________________________________________

Remind me again who is talking from hatred.

Posted by: Dude | March 8, 2006 05:59 PM

Actually, it's not really a good post--merely informative. As 'any one can see' this is nothing that surprises anyone.

What this post has accomplished is to reinforce the bias and stereotypes that many people have about PAkistan and its population.

While it's true that a few actions of the government dont define the majority of it's populace--by the same token--the rational few on the blogsphere would be hard pressed to sway outsider opinion as compared to tens of thousands of people screaming for wrent western flesh. Its all in perception.

I asked a friend in the states, rather airheaded one too, if Pakistans internet blocking seemed odd. She says "no". She is generally clueless about international affairs but the little that seeps in has conditioned her to think of a prettty shi*ty life in Pakistan as the norm.

thebaghdadalcoholsponge.blogspot.com

Posted by: --TBAS | March 8, 2006 06:01 PM

The Pakistani government blocking wrong. So are the hate filled comments here. This seems to have anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam propaganda. It fails to point out that it is Pakistani bloggers that have raised the issue and are protesting their goverment's actions. The hateful comments actually hurts the cause of these Pakistani bloggers.

Posted by: Arsalan | March 8, 2006 06:19 PM

Arsalan:

You seem to have missed brian's point, made earlier. You wrote:

"This seems to have anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam propaganda. It fails to point out that it is Pakistani bloggers that have raised the issue and are protesting their goverment's actions."

- Well, yes, they are protesting the goverment's actions, but they ar not protesting censorship. If you're talking about the "Don't block the blog" movement,you should know the truth about them: They simply want the blogs that DO NOT contain "blasphemies against Islam" to be restored. They have no problem with their government blocking blogs that are deemed blasphemous. They don't care about freedom of speech. They think censorship is fine. They're just complaining because their own, non-blasphemous websites got blocked as well.

Posted by: Tracy | March 8, 2006 07:19 PM

The so-called Don't Block the Blog campaign simply exists because a number of their own blogs have been "blanketedly" banned, otherwise you wouldn't even see such "activisim".

Funny how freedom of speech becomes an issue for those who suddenly suffer from it, while not even knowing the meaning of it. Most of these activists support banning 'select' few blogs! Stick to dentistry I'd say, its less painful ;-)

Give me a break.

Posted by: Lester | March 9, 2006 12:46 AM

I would like to ask the geniuses commenting here, "where on the DONT BLOCK THE BLOG page does it say that they support CENSORSHIP?...partial or full?"

The information on the page presents a summary of what has happened. But apparently, some here are hell bent on false accusations. Go and read the campaign page...and read the first para first. See what it says!.....before you carry forward and read the second one which you continue to misinterpret for your on prejudiced reasoning although that is just a summary of events.

You are guys are so desperately biased it is not even funny. You want this campaign to be about 'selective' freedom of speech campaign so you can feel all high and mighty about bashing these guys' effort.

Get over yourselve immediately!

Posted by: A blogger | March 9, 2006 01:14 AM

I don't want to get into the freedom-of-speech-and-respecting-others-beliefs argument but well here I go ...
we support freedom of speech but freedom of speech doesn't involve hurting other people's sentiments does it? If you think it involves saying anything anyone wants to say no matter how much it hurts others then I think you are mistaken. That sort of a freedom of speech doesn't exist anywhere.

Posted by: Hira | March 9, 2006 02:10 AM

From the official "Don't Block The Blog" press release:

Monday 06 March 2006
Dr. Awab Alvi

"We urge the print and electronic media to exert pressure upon the Government of Pakistan to first lift the ban on non-controversial blogspot.com websites and then push for the reform of the PTA before this incompetent authority wreaks havoc with a progressing Pakistan."

"while we expect any censorship to be within the limits of decency and decorum of the Pakistani culture."

They do support censorship when they don't like what is being said.

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 02:24 AM

So Brian, are you like one of those people who take words out of someone's post and then twist them around? Seems to be that you got a bone to pick with bloggers in Pakistan, whats the matter, don't like the fact that bloggers elsewhere respect their culture yet don't want to get censored when it comes to blogs and so protest against it? Do you think that censorship is just about stamping down on culture as well as access to blogging? How about this: you're blogging to defend your religious beliefs, ie - u're in favor of a ban that respects yo belief but not deny access to everything everywhere?

Come to Russia where we'll teach you what freespeech and censorship really means!

Posted by: strav | March 9, 2006 02:32 AM

To Hira:

Sometimes free speech does "hurt other people's sentiments." Other times it doesn't. Who are you to declare what is not OK to say? How many people need to be offended before something is banned? One? Two? 1 million? Who decides what gets banned?

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 02:35 AM

I wonder if there's anyone out there wh would actually *think* about the issue rather than going with stereotypes and hatred.. ??

Whats the problem with people accessing their thoughts a little, rather than just mindlessly regurgitating whatever their media shoves down their throat ??

Posted by: mansoor | March 9, 2006 02:49 AM

To Strav:

I'm not sure how to be any clearer, the "Don't Block the Blog" campaign only supports the un-blocking of the blogs that THEY think are not offensive.

If they support censorship of blogs with content they deem offensive, then they should not hide behind the banner of free speech. My only issue with them is that they need to make it clear on their website that they support censoring blogs with content they think is offensive.

If I am mistaken, then they should be willing to say, "We do not condone the offensive content on the 12 banned blogs, but blogs have the right to post the content if they want, and individuals have the right to view it, or choose not to view it."

Anything less is not Free Speech.

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 02:51 AM

Firstly I would like to commend Jeff Morley on some much needed coverage of the censorship ban in Pakistan, any form of censorship needs to be condemned, be it in China, be it in Pakistan or be it in the US.

For people making tall claims that Don't Block the Blog is about censorship go to its web-page and clearly read the statement - they neither support or condemn the issue simply acknowledge the problem.

I quote "Over the past few days, Pakistani Bloggers’ Freedom of Speech has been under attack by some, if not all, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who has chosen to block all blogs hosted on the blogspot.com domain. Political pressure groups have protested to the government to block those web sites displaying the controversial cartoon images of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) that were hosted on the net. But instead of blocking specific sites, ISPs have simply blacklisted the entire domain, causing thousands of blogs to be inaccessible for viewing or authoring in Pakistan."

Where does it say THEY condemn censorship - they do indicate "Political pressure groups have protested...." but that does not indicate that they are supprting the censorship.

My appeal to everyone is that this is a campaign about freedom of speech, you want to argue Muslims and Islam, sadly this is not the place and neither the relevant topic to do it. The Govt of Pakistan has made a mistake amongst many, and the Don't Block the Blog is condemning the ban on not only 12 but the entire plethora of the Blogspot domain.

I say that if you belong to the right - and believe in Free Speech - support the Don't Block the Blog campaign its for the same cause.

Peace out

Posted by: Zaafir | March 9, 2006 03:10 AM

To Zaafir:

If what you say is true and they think:

"The Govt of Pakistan has made a mistake amongst many, and the Don't Block the Blog is condemning the ban on not only 12 but the entire plethora of the Blogspot domain."

and

by '12' you mean the sites listed here:
http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=965

then yes, support the campaign.

But, if you read the quotes from their press release I as posted above, it doesn't seem to agree with that statement.

Note:

"...lift the ban on non-controversial blogspot.com websites..."

and:

"while we expect any censorship to be within the limits of decency and decorum of the Pakistani culture."

This should read:

"...lift the ban on ALL BLOCKED websites..."

and

"We expect NO BLOG CENSORSHIP OF ANY KIND."

I have not mentioned Muslims or Islam in this forum until now, go back and read my posts.

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 03:28 AM

Link to the previously quoted Press Release:
http://groups.google.com/group/AGABBIP/attach/5bc7914af6e1d39b/News%2BItem%2BDont%2BBlock%2Bthe%2BBlogs%2Brev1.doc?part=2

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 03:34 AM

Freedom of speech is built upon the premise of tolerating the views of others. Blasphemy is the one issue which prohibits free speech on the grounds of mere human emotional sensitivities.

However, this is not a question of free speech, it is one of moulding public opinion and its potential tragic consequences. How else, for instance, would most of Germany tolerate the ghetto-ization of Jews and their maltreatment had it not been for the popular perception, at the time, of Jews being sub-human.

Had this truly been a question of freedom of speech then the governments of countries where the caricatures appeared should, in true freedom of speech spirit, legalize the Nazi party and allow swastikas to be pasted on synagogues. This and blasphemy (against Christianity alone) are prohibited in those countries.

Let's not also mince our words; the victimization of Jews was on a racial and economic not religious basis as is the attack on Muslims for whom most westerners see as brown skinned terrorists who squelch off the welfare system.

Freedom of speech definitely. Pakistan should not ban those sites. However, the countries where the caricatures appeared should prohibit them on the basis of protecting their minorities.

Posted by: freedom of speech? | March 9, 2006 08:10 AM

Sitting here in Pakistan, reading all these comments, most of them from American readers (I presume) there is a bit of salt you have to take with this entire debate of freedom of speech.

Some of the American commentators here, like Mr. Brian, for instance, would like us to believe they are the biggest defendors of freedom of speech on the planet, they are entitled to doing this of course, but funny isn't it, how their own views are influenced and formed largely on the basis of what their media reports to them which is in other words censorded content that hides everything that might put America in bad light, really funny.
Talk of double standard, eh?

In fact, has any one even noticed how each country who has defended the publication of the cartoons in the name of freedom of speech has its own remarkable set of double standards on freedom of speech?

Through out most of Europe denying the Holocast is criminal offence, only days ago, some in Britian was sentenced to life impriosnment for violating the law guarding against Holocast denial.

In America, when the state department was asked to respond (by a journalist of course) to the competetion launched by an Irani newspaper seeking from its readers cartoons on the Holocast, the White House spokesman called it an quote "outrageous" thing.

One of the editors of JP (the newspaper that originally published the caricratures) was asked if they'd publish the winning cartoons from the same Iranian competetion, and he sais yes. What happens a day later? His verdict is over ruled by a senior editor, saying any cartoons on Holocast from that Irani newspaper will not be published (why...[insert here offical reason or flashy bla bla bla which in simpler language means that offending the religious believes of 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe is okay, because that is freedom of speech, but something that hurts the 14 millions Jews across the globe is outrageous because, well, just because it's hurting the Jews, you know, it's standard rule, you don't hurt the Jews, but you can hurt the Muslims).

Another editor of JP is asked why were similar caricatures of the Prophet Jesus not published? Ah well...because you know...[insert here yet more flashy bla bla bla in the form of same official reason which mean ...oh no, that's not got anything to do with offending the Muslims, that's got to be censored ...or oh no, sorry, sorry, you know we have a different set of freedom of speech creterias for Christian and Jews....bla bla bla

So, this what the West's notion of freedom of speech is all about? Denying the holocast is not freedom of speech, in fact, it must be protected by law, yet if Muslims demand (and there is a thought going around in Pakistan on these lines) that the United Nations put in place an international law against blasphemy, that's obviously tantamount to censorship!

And yet who gets criticised for being in favor of partial freedom of speech? The Don't Block The Blog Campaign! The word pot, kettle and black come to mind...

Pakistan may not be freest country in terms of freedom of speech, but at least it doesn't claim to be one. At least it comes out and says to its people, look you're not allowed to say this, this and this. At least, unlike the West it isn't hypocritical of it's standards of freedom of speech.

So before anyone here accuses the Don't Block the Blog group of campaigning in favor of selective freedom of speech, they better go look at their own selves and the actions of their own country, they'll find a hell of lot of evidence of selective freedom of speech in that.

Posted by: Z | March 9, 2006 11:26 AM

To Z:

You said:

"Sitting here in Pakistan, reading all these comments, most of them from American readers (I presume) there is a bit of salt you have to take with this entire debate of freedom of speech.

Some of the American commentators here, like Mr. Brian, for instance, would like us to believe they are the biggest defendors of freedom of speech on the planet, they are entitled to doing this of course, but funny isn't it, how their own views are influenced and formed largely on the basis of what their media reports to them which is in other words censorded content that hides everything that might put America in bad light, really funny."

and you continued to say:

"Talk of double standard, eh?

In fact, has any one even noticed how each country who has defended the publication of the cartoons in the name of freedom of speech has its own remarkable set of double standards on freedom of speech?"

What media do I believe? Cite a source. What double standard? What is the media line I am using?

You wrote:

"Through out most of Europe denying the Holocast is criminal offence, only days ago, some in Britian was sentenced to life impriosnment for violating the law guarding against Holocast denial."

I'm not in Europe. I think it is wrong for European countries to have laws about holocaust denial. It is against the very spirit of free speech. Don't blame me for what Europeans do...

To continue you said:

"In America, when the state department was asked to respond (by a journalist of course) to the competetion launched by an Irani newspaper seeking from its readers cartoons on the Holocast, the White House spokesman called it an quote "outrageous" thing."

Well the State Dept. says lots of stupid things no one listens to. I think the Iranian news paper's response was amusing actually, I am in favor of their contest, it shows the west exactly where the Iranian Gov. is coming from. Go for it! Print all the holocaust cartoons you feel like, and I support your right to do so.

For rest of your post, I will accuse you of the same thing you accused me of - Buying the Pakistani Government Controlled media's story hook line and sinker, but I will cite sources. Visit http://www.memri.org and you will see many sad examples of this kind of logic. The logic that says "because some European countries have antisemitic hate speech laws, then the whole west is guilty of a double standard." Is that the only line you have?

I think the westerners here who read this will understand me. Why is it that every time the free speech argument is made the holocaust is brought up? Not my problem or issue, not even relevant. What does the Holocaust have to do with free speech in SW Asia - Nothing.

You should try another approach to justify partial free speech rights.

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 04:05 PM

I invite everyone to contrast and compare:

From the Pakistan Penal code:

295-B Defiling, etc, of copy of Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.

295-C Use of derogatory remarks, etc; in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

298-A Use of derogatory remarks, etc..., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
298-B Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.

1.

Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation:
1.

refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as "Ameerul Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Momneen", "Khalifat-ul-Muslimeen", "Sahaabi" or "Razi Allah Anho";
2.

refers to or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ummul-Mumineen;
3.

refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
4.

refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
5.

refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as Masjid; shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.
2.

Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahore group, (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other names), who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, refers to the mode or from of call to prayers followed by his faith as "Azan" or redites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

298-C Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, posses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years ans shall also be liable to fine.

From the US Constitution:

Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 05:17 PM

Some comentary on the Pakistani Constitution:
http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=987

Posted by: Brian | March 9, 2006 07:21 PM

tsk tsk. Many of you argue fro polar opposites of the same angle. Free speech certainly about being able to express yourself freely -- I think many of you forget that there is an obvious "and responsibly" that comes right after freely. Incidentally, it appears many of the comments ackowledge the fact that there are disputes within disputes, even here in the comments, but no one identified that people who write and express freely, need to do so keeping in mind certain limitations. I'm wondering if Brian is black and if he isn't how confident he would be if he wrote an article about the history of shackles and black americans, and how they should get over it, and its in the past now, etcetera; then see him boldly walk around a black neighborhood. You would retaliate by saying they should respect your free speech...but the question is...did you respect theirs?

Posted by: Zohare | March 9, 2006 11:36 PM

"Well the State Dept. says lots of stupid things no one listens to." -- duly noted that they are there representing the wishes of the american people. whatever your opinion may be about them, they still form a very important portion of your decision making body.

Now I think it is time to put things into perspective and look at one very esstnail element, which is the american media made a committment, as did the US Govt., not to allow publication of the cartoons. I believe part of that was out of respect for Muslims, another part was the 'good cop, bad cop' role, obviously Europe being the bad, and finally the fact that the US does not want to have civil unrest amongst the Muslims in the US, especially since they, Muslims, are synonomous with Terrorism in many western nations.

Brian, bear in mind that your points are well taken, although I am a member of the 'Don't Block the Blogs' campaign, I will say that it appears bias to block only one blog and not the rest, but if you read the campaign commentary on our group closely, I believe you may find no one has infact said that the blog publishing the cartoons should be blocked on its own. We were merely stating that if the govt feels the need to punish anyone, it should be that blog. Now, i know you are going to get all riled up in your chair, but take a moment and think about it. As i heard on scrubs last night, Dr. Cox was asking 'Fiona' where he was when 'they' were handing out common sense. I shall now pose that very question to you. You did good to bring out those fine points about the holocaust issue in europe not bearing any weight on your being american. You also did a fantastic job comparing your fantastic constituion with ours, especially the fact that your first ammendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". Heck that makes up the whole damn thing. Do you know a thing or two about how your country came to being? I could give you some real nice details for you to sit and twiddle your thumbs about if you want to really indulge your attention with historical facts. Why don't you do a little background check (from reliable sources of course, mine being the American Schooling system), and do a little compare and contrast on the formation of Pakistan and America. What you so adamantly believe we are hypocritical about, your nation took almost 500 years to overcome. we are a mere 50+ yrs old. Where does that put the two countries in terms of evolution with humanity? I'll give you a headstart - start with the anglo-saxon war and go over to the us involvement in the Iran-Iraq war of 80. Then, while you are having a wonderful time figuring things out , give a little time to what special laws the US has towards muslims within the ages of 18-45 (not 100% on the ages but they are within 2-3 years of these ages).

Now before you go into a rebuttal of sorts, kindly take into account that I like america as a country. I like many people there, one of my dearest friends is a white american from philadelphia and i am far more racist than he will ever be, but you must bear in mind that this is not about who is better or wose...these facts all fall in degrees when we talk of freedom. Z is right to say we are not the freest of people, God knows we are a long way from that. We are merely suggesting you realize that there is misrepresentation of the people by their governments in almost every country. I came to the US thinking it was a terribly racist country. I was wrong, we are all racist to some amount. Just be cool.

Live and let live...

Posted by: Zohare | March 10, 2006 12:01 AM

Looks lik as of tonight this website has been blocked by the Pakistani Government:
http://dragonkeypress.com/blog/?p=991

Too bad. I was hoping more Pakistanis would be able to see how a free speech debate works. This is the perfect example of how important the US First Amendment is.

Posted by: Brian | March 10, 2006 02:48 AM

Sorry to Morely and the Washington Post for getting their website blocked.

Posted by: Brian | March 10, 2006 03:08 AM

yes, I do not believe in a free for all shouts and speech or expression. A Hyde Park must be set aside for that.

Posted by: a sane voice | March 10, 2006 09:14 AM

I can view this website and I'm in Pakistan, it isn't blocked on my end.

Posted by: Anon | March 10, 2006 04:25 PM

Nothing in this world is an absolute and freedom of speech is no exception. Arguing for perfection and forsaking something for nothing, because you cannot get everything, is foolish. Quite honestly, we reformists in the Muslim world will take whatever scraps we can get (and be grateful). Rome was not built in a day and neither was the Great and Free Western society some braggarts on this board are touting. People in the West forget too easily the hundreds of years of slavery and Christian intolerance (Spanish inquisition, witch burnings, colonizing) that their nations suffered through before evolving to their current state. The Muslim world, like the West, too will evolve and it will take time. The worst part is having to suffer bigots like Brian in the meantime. I suppose its one of the sacrifices of struggling for a free and tolerant society.

By the way a Mullah says, “We will kill any one who goes against our beliefs and threatens our culture and traditions!!”
George Bush says (and since a majority of Americans voted for him I assume they agree),” We will kill any one who goes against our beliefs and threatens our culture and traditions!!!!!

Different cultures, different religions, but no matter how you try and disguise it its intolerance none the less. I say again that nothing is absolute, and a relentless pursuit of an absolute freedom of expression is, in my opinion, chasing pixie dust. Someone on these message boards wrote once that all of us have our own hypocrisies. So let us not cast blame, but work to improve the lives and conditions of those around us.

Posted by: Zain | March 11, 2006 11:26 PM

I apologize if it sounded a little preachy at the end. Last thing I want to do is proselytize, especially because my beliefs are more atheistic than anything else, but I am still proud to be a Muslim !! My own little hypocrisy I suppose.

Posted by: Zain | March 11, 2006 11:31 PM

While re-reading my earlier post I realized that my comment, about a majority of Americans voting for George Bush and agreeing with him, was obviously wrong and possibly hurtful. I realize that there are other ,especially domestic, compulsions that cause people to vote the way they do and I apologize for stereotyping and lumping all Americans into the same ideological grouping as the 'Bigoted Idiot in Chief'. (The rampant Islamophobia nowadays must be getting under my skin.)

Posted by: Zain | March 11, 2006 11:44 PM

In pakistan and this link is working fine.

Brian, I am glad that you actually got things underway in the manner that you did. It helps address many issues that people interpret and how they do so. Sitting here opposite to where you might be in the world, we have realized that there is a hypocrisy in the system by which people claim free speech. To tell you the truth, this really has deep rooted relations with trying to democratize countries that resist. Essentially, it is quite undemocratic to create a democracy by force - a contradiction really - but more importantly, we realize that there is hesitation because of the potential concequences. the same formula cant work in every country, especially newer ones. And I really believe that anything done in a rush and forced down someones throat backfires like vomit in a more vile and uinacceptable manner - take for example the Taliban -- the original frankensteins of the US and Pakistani Intelligence teams working to remove the red army. To seek good by using bad against bad -- well i dont think the double negative method will work again, especially since it didnt the first time.

in anycase, I find it unfortunate that your website has suffered and is blocked by our government. Believe me, lobbying for the removal of the ban is barely a start. the only fear, is the fear of death for people. if charged with blasphemy in our own country, it is a no brainer really. How many people had to die to give iraq its freedom? how many americans believe those lives lost were in vain? what will free speech take to accomplish in a muslim country? how many lives must be lost over how much time before blasphemy laws are no longer a threat to free speech? how far can you take the limits of free speech? Is it fair to criticize the system of a country that tries to put civil limits on an act (by means of laws that are intended to protect that which is held sacred to billions) but then the country takes a step further to act out of reason?

My objective posting here and being actively part of the Dont Block the Blog campaign is for the sake of all bloggers. I am not here to offend anyone or to be offended. Ironically, it is the offence that brings us all together here. More importantly, what remains of an offence if some dont appreciate the weight it bears on certain societies?

Posted by: Zohare | March 13, 2006 01:30 AM

Can anyone guess who Brian, the active and staunch commenter here is?

Brian Twyman is the co-owner and editor along with his wife Tracey of a website called Plus Ultra, which can be found by going to plusultrablog.com and is one of the 12 blocked websites in not just Pakistan but also Turkey ;-)

And open letters to the State Department where you and your wife condemn the efforts of bloggers in Pakistan and elsewhere won't work because eventually you're just trying to show the pig headedness you all have built up from the inside.

I support freedom of speech but not one that defames another's religion, nor do I support the action the Pakistan Telecom Authority have taken to block blogspot.com - there they have shown their ignorance!

Posted by: Googler's relative | March 13, 2006 01:52 AM


What hath I wrought? Wow. DrawMohammedWeek was just a joke-sideblog. I even put it in mothballs last month. Oh well.

http://drawmohammedweek.blogspot.com
http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com

Posted by: CDR Salamander | March 18, 2006 07:21 AM

The creative mind of a few local Pakistanis Yasir Memon & Naveed Memon - has created this nifty utility for those individuals in Pakistan stuck behind the Government supported censorship on our Internet

The way this service works is that you can simply go-to

http://www.pkblogs.com/blogname

where blogname is “blogname.blogspot.com”

Alternatively head on over to www.pkblogs.com - you get NO ads or any annoying pop-up to disturb your surfing experience, the service converts all inside and outside links

Posted by: anonymous | March 23, 2006 11:25 AM

Reacting to religious fanaticism in the same manner is as stupid (Or perhaps more)as the original insanity. It cannot make the fanatic see the folly of his own fanaticism but provides him with justification for his irrational behavior. Fanatics, religious as well as non-religious, are a bit sub-humans and need to be raised to human level. That may be done by staying cool and making them see the folly of their belief. I am a Muslim, hold utter contempt for fanatics but never show it when confronting one; part hypocrisy but largely to make him see that his beliefs have taken him away from everything nice that the religions stand for. Some times it does work but even when it doesn't, it is food for thought and might work at some later stage in better environs.

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Posted by: make money online at home | May 12, 2006 08:51 AM

The one good thing about Blogs getting blocked is that the censors no longer know what blogs contain. They could be slanderous, full of lies and libelous. The image of many people can be tarnished whether it is justified or not. Pakistanis living abroad get most of their 'news and opinions' from local bloggers - no one is stopping them. It seems the military regime imagines Pakistan is on some other planet from where no one can receive and kind of communication. Things have become so bad even emails are also being blocked.

Posted by: Blogs are seen | May 22, 2006 05:24 PM

The military regime's decision to block blogs - does not prevent people from posting them. So people abroad have access to the opinions people have here. The blocking only encourages slander, libel and absolute lies, because no one knows what is being posted. A person's image can be tarnished and he would never know about it. For many Pakistanis abroad - their source of 'new and views' are the blogs which people post, they do not rely on newspapers because they know government controls them. Censorship does not work, it has been proven time and again. People eventually get to know the truth. The stronger the censorship the more the violent the reaction there is to it. It does not matter what the laws say, individual opinions do matter and even information they pass on is of value.

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Posted by: Lionel | July 20, 2006 05:56 AM

Ok so let me get this straight, ALL blogs at Blogspot are being censored because a few of them contained blasphemous stuff.

Considering the original cartoon was published in a newspaper, does this mean that tomorrow we are going to ban ALL newspapers regardless of who is publishing them and what their content is? While we are at it why not magazines and books, too. Is the Big Brother scenario already here?

Quoted:
"I think the Iranian news paper's response was amusing actually, I am in favor of their contest, it shows the west exactly where the Iranian Gov. is coming from."

Hmmm! I guess the same way supporters of those cartoons showed where they were coming from.

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