South Asia

Pakistan to monitor Google and Yahoo for 'blasphemy'

Google website - file
Image caption Pakistan says the main website will be unaffected

Pakistan will start monitoring seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, for content it deems offensive to Muslims.

YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing will also come under scrutiny, while 17 less well-known sites will be blocked.

Officials will monitor the sites and block links deemed inappropriate.

In May, Pakistan banned access to Facebook after the social network hosted a "blasphemous" competition to draw the prophet Muhammad.

The new action will see Pakistani authorities monitor content published on the seven sites, blocking individual pages if content is judged to be offensive.

Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website.

Cartoon controversy

The ban on Facebook was lifted after about two weeks, when the site blocked access to the page, called Everybody Draw Muhammad.

Image caption The Draw Muhammad page on Facebook sparked protests in Pakistan

Facebook itself is not on the new list of websites to be monitored. A number of links from YouTube will be blocked but not the main site itself.

Many Muslims regard depictions of Muhammad, even favourable ones, as blasphemous.

In 2007, the government banned YouTube, allegedly to block material offensive to the government of Pervez Musharraf.

The action led to widespread disruption of access to the site for several hours. The ban was later lifted.

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