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Pakistan expands ban to YouTube, Wikipedia and Flickr

The New York Times reports that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has also blocked YouTube, as well as “certain pages on the Flickr and Wikipedia sites.”

“Earlier we were blocking the links,” he said of YouTube, “but when content increased we had to block the whole Web site.” The ban, which also included certain pages on the Flickr and Wikipedia sites, occurred a day after access to Facebook was suspended on orders from a Pakistani court. An Islamic lawyers group won that injunction, arguing that a contest started by users for drawings of the Prophet Muhammad – whose depiction is considered blasphemous by some Muslims – was offensive.

The ruling demonstrated the power of hard-line Islamic groups in Pakistan. Although they rarely garner many votes in elections and represent a minority of this country’s population, the groups are often able to impose their will on the more peaceful majority by claiming a defense of Islam.

Social networking sites are extremely popular in Pakistan, a country of 170 million, where more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25. Pakistan has about 25 million Internet users, almost all of them young, according to Adnan Rehmat, a media analyst in Islamabad.

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