ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan has ordered all Internet service providers to block the YouTube website for containing "blasphemous" content and material considered offensive to Islam, officials said Sunday.
An inter-ministerial committee has decided to block YouTube because it contained "blasphemous content, videos and documents," a government official told AFP.
"The site will remain blocked till further orders," he said.
Other officials said the site had been blocked because it contained controversial sketches of the Prophet Mohammed which were republished by Danish newspapers earlier this month.
One major service provider, Micronet, said in an email to subscribers that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority had directed all ISPs to block access to YouTube "for containing blasphemous web content/movies."
"Meanwhile Internet users can write to YouTube.com to remove the objectionable web content/movies because this removal would enable the authorities to order un-blocking of this website," the email said.
At least 17 Danish newspapers republished the controversial drawing, vowing to defend freedom of expression a day after Danish police said they had foiled a plot to murder the cartoonist.
In the latest in a series of demonstrations over the cartoons in Pakistan, hundreds of hardline Islamists in the southern city of Karachi torched effigies of the Danish prime minister and the cartoonist on Sunday, witnesses said.
"Death to cartoonist," the demonstrators chanted before burning the effigies, as well as US and Danish flags, outside a mosque.
Supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's small opposition party also staged a small protest in Karachi.
In the southwestern city of Quetta, activists from a hardline Islamic organisation burned a Danish flag. Witnesses said they also demanded the government close Danish missions in Islamabad and end diplomatic relations.
"It is a deliberate attempt to malign Islam and hurt the feelings of Muslims," Habib Shah Kerani told the protesters from the Anjman-e-Islam (Organisation of Islam) group.
Some 12 cartoons published in September 2005 by the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper sparked bloody riots in the Islamic world.
Five people died in Pakistan in February 2006 during protests against the cartoons, while a Pakistani cleric offered a reward of one million dollars and a new car for anyone who killed any of the cartoonists.
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