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Blasphemy on social media: Pakistan court orders officials to act

Anyone posting content offending religion is to be placed on Pakistan’s exit control list, court rules

Gulf News

Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ordered the government to put the names of those involved in posting blasphemous content on social media on its exit control list so as to bar them from leaving Pakistan.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC passed the order while hearing a petition filed by a citizen who contended that blasphemous content on social media websites was hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.

Federal Secretary Interior Mohammad Arif Khan, representing Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar, Inspector General of Islamabad Police Tariq Masood Yasin, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Syed Esmail Shah and officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) appeared before the court.

The respondents were shown samples of ‘blasphemous’ content posted on social media in the chamber of IHC Chief Justice Siddiqui.

Subsequently, Justice Siddiqui directed them to place the names of those involved on the ECL.

He asked the PTA chairman what he had done so far to get the content taken off social media pages, Dawn online reported.

Justice Siddiqui directed the PTA to take action immediately and submit a report to him about the removal of the offensive material.

The interior ministry official assured the court that all possible measures would be taken to remove the content from social media and arrest the culprits.

The case was filed by Salman Shahid (son-in-law of Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid fame), Dawn online reported.

Shahid’s petition alleged that such content had not been blocked by the respondents, neither had any steps been taken to remove it.

Justice Siddiqui said he had been unable to sleep since he saw the materials available with the court.

“I will go to every extent to bring this case to its logical end and if needed I will even ban social media in Pakistan,” he said, as reported by Dawn online.

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