Facebook page tied to Pakistan ban back up

After Pakistan blocks the site due to what it views as "blasphemous" content, the page disappears. Now it's back, with a message that a moderator had his e-mail and Skype hacked, and got scared.

Protesters in Karachi, Pakistan, shout slogans during a Friday rally against published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed on Facebook. Protesters shouted "Death to Facebook" and "Death to America," and burned U.S. flags. AFP Photo/Asif Hassan

Update, May 22 at 1:35 PDT: The story has been updated to indicate that the original "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page is back up, with an explanation of its removal.

A Facebook page that led Pakistan to temporarily block the social-networking site reappeared on the social-networking site Saturday morning, two days after it was taken down.

The page promotes "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," scheduled for Thursday following an American cartoonist's satirical suggestion that people draw images of the prophet to promote free speech.

By Friday, the page no longer appeared on the site. Facebook said Friday it had not taken any action on the page, according to the Associated Press. It was speculated that the creator removed it, possibly because "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" was over, but the reason was unclear.

On Saturday, however, the following explanation appeared on the wall of the page, which had upward of 109,000 supporters and more than 12,000 photos as of Saturday afternoon at 1:30 PDT.

"This page was removed two days ago, after one of our moderators had his e-mail and Skype hacked. His personal data was revealed. He then got scared and deleted the...page, the blog, and the e-mails. The rest of us are now back without him after he backed out. This is another scare tactic from the Islamic extremists. We won't fall."

A blog spawned by the idea of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," however, on Saturday remained virtually devoid of content, still renamed "nothing," after featuring several caricatures of Mohammed earlier in the week.

Pakistan's Facebook closure happened Wednesday after an Islamic lawyers association in Lahore argued that the contest essentially equaled blasphemy and won a court injunction against the social-networking site. In what could be a wider Internet crackdown, Pakistan also banned YouTube over "sacrilegious" content. Some Muslims consider images of Mohammed to be blasphemous.

Pakistan has said it would consider restoring Facebook and other sites featuring offending content if the content was removed. While the country's telecommunications regulator said Thursday that the YouTube ban had been lifted following the removal of "blasphemous" footage, a YouTube spokeswoman said the video site is still being blocked there, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Published caricatures of Mohammed also led to massive protests in the streets of Pakistan this week. Pakistani protesters shouted "Death to Facebook" and "Death to America," and burned U.S. flags to vent growing anger over online depictions of the prophet that they view as sacrilegious.

The idea for "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" went viral quickly after Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris posted a drawing last month depicting objects like a domino, a spool of thread, and a handbag, saying they were the "real likeness of Mohammed." The cartoon also included a fake group called Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor calling for an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

Norris said she drew her cartoon as a show of support for the creators of Comedy Central's "South Park," which earlier this year featured an episode depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

That episode led a New York-based Web site called RevolutionMuslim.com to warn creators of the animated series that "what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh," a Dutch filmmaker who was murdured in 2004 after producing a film exploring violence against women in some Islamic societies.

Norris, who strongly distanced herself from the concept of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," did not create the Facebook page touting the event and actively opposed it. Instead, she joined a Facebook group called "Against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day - May 20." Its page still appeared live on the site Friday afternoon, with more than 43,000 members.

Update, 9:15 p.m. PDT: Thanks to reader Josh Diekmann for writing in to point out that at least one additional "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page has gone up, with more than 17,000 "liking" it as of Friday night. In addition, another reader notes that Facebook now hosts a page promoting "Show Mohammed Day," a scheduled day of rallies June 3 "in celebration of freedom of speech and religion, honoring the spirit of the First Amendment." The organizer says the June 3 rallies are a direct response to the controversy surrounding "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

 

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