SC seeks legal avenues to ban blasphemous cartoons worldwide
By Mohammad Kamran
ISLAMABAD: The government has blocked all websites that carry caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on the Internet, and the attorney general has been asked to explore legal avenues for implementing a global ban on these sites.
A three-member bench, consisting of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Javed Buttar and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, issued notices and directed the attorney general to inform the court next Monday as to how it could prevent access to such objectionable material on the internet worldwide. The bench was jointly hearing the petition of Dr Mohammad Imran Uppal and Maulvi Iqbal Haider, seeking a complete blockage of sites carrying the cartoons and their depictions.
Iftikhar Rashid, chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Shahzada Alam Malik were also present in court. The federal government, the Telecommunications ministry, PEMRA, PTA, Yahoo Incorporated USA and 1&1 Co, the host of websites carrying the cartoons, are respondents in Imran Uppal’s petition.
Advocate Qamar Afzal stated in his arguments that the availability of the caricatures on the Internet, which have hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims worldwide, should be declared “intellectual terrorism”. Maulvi Iqbal Haider stated that though the site had been blocked, the sacrilegious cartoons could still be accessed through various search engines. Advocate Ibrahim Satti, counsel for Iqbal Haider, also stated that an FIR on the availability of the sacrilegious material under blasphemy laws had not been registered by the concerned police station, despite the court’s orders.