Pakistan’s media regulator said Monday it blocked Wikipedia services in the country for hurting Muslim sentiment by not removing purportedly blasphemous content from the site.
Critics denounced Islamabad’s action, saying it was a blow to digital rights.
Under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or its figures can be sentenced to death, although the country has yet to carry out capital punishment for blasphemy.
But even allegations of the offense are often enough to provoke mob violence and even deadly attacks. International and domestic rights groups say that accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority says it blocked Wikipedia because a 48-hour deadline to remove the content was ignored, according to a spokesperson. “Such things hurt the sentiments of Muslims,” said Malahat Obaid, from the regulator.