Pak police lodge case against Facebook

Islamabad: Acting on the orders of a judge, police in the Pakistani capital have registered a case against social networking website Facebook for hosting "blasphemous materials".

The Margalla police station in Islamabad registered a First Information Report against Facebook and three other websites under sections 295-A and 298-A of the Criminal Procedure Code yesterday on the directions of Additional Sessions Judge Kamran Basharat Mufti.

The judge directed police to register a case in response to an application filed by the Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum. One of the complainants, lawyer Rao Abdur Rahim, told the `Express Tribune` that his organisation had been informed in July last year that Facebook and a few other websites had been hosting "blasphemous" material that was being uploaded from Pakistan.

"Concerned government officials, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and police were requested to take action but they did not pay attention. Therefore, Islamabad District Bar on July 27, 2011 filed a complaint for the registration of an FIR, but no action was taken," Rahim said. The Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum then filed an application in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Mufti, asking him to direct police to register an FIR.

"We gave three applications: one against Payam TV for telecasting a movie `Yousaf`, one against Facebook and three other websites and one against the US Embassy in Islamabad for organising a gathering of gays and lesbians," Rahim said. Accepting two of the applications, Judge Mufti directed Margalla police station to register an FIR against Payam TV and Facebook. The judge turned down the application against the US Embassy.

"We will approach the high court for registration of an FIR against the US Embassy," Rahim added. The move came a day after Pakistani authorities briefly blocked access to micro-blogging site Twitter for allegedly publicising a contest for blasphemous caricatures on Facebook. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stepped in to end the ban on Sunday.