News24

Bangladesh lifts Facebook ban

2010-06-06 17:56

Dhaka - Bangladesh lifted a ban on Facebook on Sunday, a week after it blocked the popular social networking site over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and "obnoxious" images of its leaders.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered the country's international internet gateway providers to unblock the site after the US-based company agreed to remove the obnoxious images and content.

"The Facebook is now open," BTRC vice chair Hasan Mahmud Delwar told AFP.

The move came after Pakistan lifted a similar ban on Facebook last week following a court order.

Islamabad had blocked the social networking site, video website YouTube and 1 200 web pages over a row about "blasphemous" content on the internet.

'Propaganda'

Bangladesh banned Facebook on May 29 after officials said cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad posted on the site "hurt the religious sentiments of the country's Muslim population".

Thousands of people belonging to Muslim groups staged protests over the cartoons which they branded "anti-Islamic propaganda", and demanded the site be banned.

Nearly 90% of Bangladesh's 144 million people are Muslims who regard depictions of Islam's prophet as blasphemous.

The BTRC also said that some links in Facebook contained "obnoxious" images of the country's leaders including the prime minister and that the site would be reopened after Bangladesh had permanently blocked the offending pages.

The country's anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion also arrested one man over the images of the political leaders.

Last week the Bangladesh telecoms authority contacted Facebook and said the US-based site has agreed to remove the obnoxious pages.

There was no comment from Facebook.

"We are satisfied with the removal of offensive items by Facebook team. And now it's again open for all," BTRC chair Zia Ahmed told The Daily Star, adding that Bangladesh would "strongly monitor the postings on the site".

Bangladesh has nearly one million Facebook account holders - a sixth of all internet users, according to the BTRC. Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia have fan pages on Facebook.