20 May 2010

Pakistan blocks Youtube & Facebook

It's a sad day for many Pakistanis who no longer have access to Facebook and Youtube due to their government blocking these sites due to "offensive material" that reportedly shows the Prophet Muhammad in a blasphemous way. You can read more about it here, here and elsewhere. Restriced access is also being implemented to Wikipedia and Flickr.

I am sorry for all my Pakistani followers on Youtube who can no longer watch Youtube videos, or who can no longer access Facebook, which make up a large component for free expression online.

While some supporters may applaud the decision in Pakistan, I strongly believe in free speech, and don't take it for granted by any means. I value the freedom that I enjoy to go on Youtube, Facebook or other online sites and say whatever I choose to. To me, it is sad that people other countries cannot enjoy this freedom due to ruling such as these in places where free expression is looked down upon.

I would rather be offended once in a while, and I may not agree with everything that people say or write be it online, or in print, TV, or otherwise, but I stand firmly by their right to say it.

Hopefully the people in Pakistan who are against this grave form of censorship will find out a way around it, such as proxies or IP masking. If not, I hope this heavy-handed ban will soon be lifted and I will be happy to have my Pakistani subscribers back and active on Youtube.


  1. Heyyyy jani...I`m soo glad you wrote about this topic, I just cant believe it!

    Im brazilian but Im married to a pakistani and I live in Lahore (Pakistan), and I can say that here ppl are just addict to Facebook and youtube...

    Hopefuly this situation will be solved soon..Let`s pray for the best!

    By the way, you ROCKS!!! Congratulations on your excellent work!!!

  2. Zareen Zubair9:57 pm

    Being a Pakistani I do agree ban on YouTube isn't just. But I think the media should not focus merely on Pakistan blocking FB or YT, western media should also focus on events those led to this ban. As a nation, we are emotional about our religion (I prefer if the West do not judge us by our media). We did sign a petition to remove the FB group of "Draw Muhammad Day". But a democratic means did not suit Facebook owners.

    I think freedom of expression and respect for religious or any person should not be mixed. To add to your knowledge, Danish newspaper did not publish a comic strip on Jesus because that will offend the Christians. But a comic on Muslim's Prophet is somehow acceptable to them. This "Islamophobia" the West is trying to create is all based on an agenda nothing more.

    I think there should be respect for all religions in order to maintain peace.

    Lastly, yes we would love to see your make up tutorials again. We're hooked to your channel!


  3. I agree with Zareen.
    I don't live in Pakistan, but I am Pakistani. Yet I think that such an offensive act over the internet is bound to get governments of Islamic republics very angry. Don't worry guys the ban will probably be over soon.

  4. Remember Iran can not access facebook. Its just one more step that country takes to control there people. They know that if they let them see how free other countries are the people may rebel. Thank god I live in America <3

  5. I agree with Zareen also, and I see it as boycotting a bad business. If a company is offensive to you or has bad customer service, you won't spend your time or money there anymore. Simple as that.

  6. Just keep in mind: your own beliefs and subjective experiences shouldn't affect what's going on in other parts of the world. Ethnocentrism is never a good thing.

  7. I hope there will be enough protest so that they may reverse the ban. Such censorship is outrageous!

  8. Anonymous12:33 am

    @ Ashleybop: I don't think the government of Pakistan put a ban on facebook/youtube so the people will "rebel" when they see a "free" country. That's just ignorant and seeing that you're from America, I'm not surprised. Why don't you take a look at your own country before you bash another?

  9. I also agree with Zareen. I think the younger American generation (which I am a part of) is so enamored with a liberal culture, self-entitlement, and freedom of speech that they have lost sight of what it means to defer at times out of respect. My own friends seem to think that ending a phrase with the words, "just kidding," entitles them to say and do whatever they please without regard to the rest of the world. I am glad that we can discuss this openly here and hopefully shed some light on the story behind the story.

  10. Wow, thanks for posting this. I don't follow the news much. I think it's sad because they are missing out on alot of the good that youtube and facebook brings.

  11. Firstly, let me tell you MissChieous that you are a very inspirational makeup artist. You have done an excellent job with your makeup and I hope you are continusously creatively inspired.

    As a young Muslim woman, I think that YouTube, Facebook, etc., has to be aware that such actions can inflame a lot of religous sentiment. Such actions by these companies come out of ignorance, I guess. But I do think free speech should be allowed & the governments of so-called Islamic countries shouldn't ban Facebook etc. because of this incident. It would be more suitable if instead they spoke aout about it and promoted the reglion as a religion of PEACE & TOLERANCE. Use it as an oppurtunity to reach out & understand.

  12. Hey Julia! Just wanted to say that I love your channel on youtube and I enjoy watching...as for this blog post, I think Pakistan is in the wrong for banning youtube and facebook because of the conflictual religious material recently posted. But we cannot blame them since they are an 'Islamic' Republic in the end. Denial of the Holocaust is considered a crime yet completely demeaning the religion of Islam in this way and making the 'Islamophobia' in the West even more inflamed is considered 'free speech'.

    This is obviously a complicated subject, but the actual posts that were made on this event page that caused this whole fiasco are ridiculous. Anyone with a grain of humanity and decency would not say such things about ANY religion. I'm all for free speech, but the hypocrisy is raging here in the United States when we criticize Pakistan for such things and not other countries that walk out of United Nations meetings due to a comment they do not agree with. What happened to free speech then?

  13. Chloevien3:00 am

    I also believe in free speech but no insult of religion, sex orientation, and ethnic group/race. Free speech doesn't mean you have no rule to follow, just have some respect. The problem is there's no boundary, where we can say it's an insult. Despite that, IMHO it's wrong to block those sites. I don't believe that the whole Pakistanis don't want to visit FB and YT anymore. A country doesn't have right to take away your freedom to choose, what you want to see or not.

  14. I live in KSA, one unique Islamic country and I'm often surprised by all the "no-no's" But in all honestly. Do I miss all the porno sites that are blocked by the government? or that the movies are edited?
    In my personal opinion, the media is full of offensive, diminishing, insignificant information. It is hard for the younger generation to choose the uplifting, enriching information that is out there because "everyone is doing it"

    I believe that what was done was offensive and that things like that should be banned from FB and Youtube.
    Site like yours, and many many others where you can learn things, or entertain yourselves without feeling at the end like you wasted part of your like should be accessible to everyone.

    I hope and pray that many internet users understand that freedom of speech does not mean to offend or put someone down. It means to be able to voice your opinion in a respectful manner.

    Thanks for the post. I am eager to see the outcome.

  15. Tooba6:08 am

    I appreciate your blog and have a learned a great many things from your blog.

    As for this post, freedom of speech does not in any way give right to insult other's religions. The majority of our people appreciate the ban, thus telling the world we are hurt by this so called freedom of speech. We respect other religions and we expect the same from others too. There are some points where the limit of peace and tolerance ends and this is that one time.

    Life beyond her eyes above suggests us to reach out and tell the world about peace and tolerance rather than the ban. FYI, the ban was implemented as the last resort, when after multiple complains and requests to facebook, FB did not even bother to answer our pleas. We were very peaceful about it, but when there is no answer , we reacted.

    I hope all of you understand. And if you think in this perspective, you will see this as a reaction rather than an action. It was an answer to an action, and every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So if freedom of speech allows the west to demean our religion and our Prophet (P.B.U.H), we reserve the right to protest using all the available means, coz in the end it's all about "freedom".

  16. Apparently it's going to be happening in Australia too. Not so much Youtube (least I don't think) but porn and the likes. Everyone is understandably up in arms about it. But, if your smart enough, there is a way around it.


  17. hey julia im ur top fan ya i learn many thing from u im so so sad ya what the hell is this i really missing ur videos an u o my GOD i will be dead thats horroble now i start wepping how will i see you plz if u can load your all videos on this site means ur plz u have to i love ur all videos an want to download them now.ok C ya

  18. michelle12:44 pm

    Its a sad day when countries are denied basic free speech. I agree - I'd rather be offended by something I read/see etc, than for the government or ruling bodies to decide what I can and can't view. :-(

  19. This is my feeling whether you agree with or not with something or someone or a group and or are offended or not it is still free speech regardless of the medium used and EVERYONE all over the world should have those rights.

  20. Regarding insulting religions....

    There are some extremist Islamist groups in Europe, especially in the UK, who use the luxury of free speech in these countries to spread hate. It is hypocritical to then say that free speech should not be granted to all, when these groups take advantage of this right here.

    I know most Muslims do not follow the beliefs these groups do, but you have to realize that in the West, we are also offended by these groups, some who event want to install a system of Sharia in European countries. I also wish these groups did not say these things, but it is their freedom to say it, that is the freedom of speech. Even when they insult soldiers who fought in Afghanistan, or call "death to infidels". These things are all offensive, yet it is permitted to say these things here, even if it is offensive to local people.

    I still believe in free speech. People will be insulted at all different kinds of things, but I feel this right is very important. However, if people do not agree with me, that is their prerogative.

    I think it's dumb to block entire websites due to a few offensive videos. Who is the state to say what is offensive and what is not? Not only that, but it takes a way of expression away from people that dissent against the government. Some say the coverage of the riots in Iran by everyday people was a reason why this site was also blocked. Political dissent is frowned upon, or outright banned.

  21. assalammu'alaykuum

    I think it's time for us all to say ENOUGH to facebook! it's make moeslem angry.

  22. I agree with zareen. free speech does not mean lack of respect. Free specch does mean more responsibility though, i am a pakistani and i seriously do not mind the ban until and unless it gets the message across, these sites mean a lot more to me then the respect of my identity. being a MUSlim.
    do visit me at www.desital.blogspot.com

  23. This is such a tricky subject to touch on as no matter what you say you're bound to upset someone.
    I feel very similar to Julia however when Zareen says "I think there should be respect for all religions in order to maintain peace." I could not agree more either. The problem is that there will be radicals among any and every religion and a lot of people who feel theirs is the right one and are quite happy to tell other people how wrong theirs are.
    I actually have seen a lot of things poking fun at christianity and to me, as a Canadian, it almost seems to be more "acceptable" than poking fun at any other religion.
    The basic premise of free speech is to be able to say what you feel wihout fear of persecution. I don't know what I would do if I lived in a country that did not support that, I count myself very lucky to be where I am.
    I think what gets lost in that translation though is respect. Everyone has the right to feel how they feel, to think how they think and believe what they believe; and they should be treated with respect no matter what those opinions. However they should also show respect when voicing them.
    As for the page on Facebook which was an instigating factor in this decision, this may be one more nail in Facebooks coffin. If there was offensive enough material it should have been removed. Hate pages should not be supported as freedom of speech be it for or against my own beliefs.

  24. i cant agree more with Blueyez thta hate pages should not be supported as freedom of speech and as long as baning bacebook is concerned the country did it with the consent of the people..i am a muslim living in england and i myself is boycotting facebook ..such content is not tolerable by muslims.. and that ban is for the time being (till 30 may to be precise)to show that if facebook cant take measures and cant abide by its terms and conditions, individuals can. there is a thin line between freedom of speech and racisim which should be maintained.. thanx

  25. Not all people in Pakistan support this, news outlets have reported that many groups are strongly against this form of censorship in their country. It's a big step to assume that the government did it "with the consent of its people", sure, some people may agree with it, but a lot of people do not. It is still censorship and the state deciding for you what you can and cannot view.

    When I see something that offends me, I just click to another page, I would never support a heavy handed practice such as a state banning and entire online community.

    Again, just my opinion. And to say that Facebook is a "hate page" is a bit of a stretch, a big one at that. Most people use Facebook in a non-offensive way to interact with people around the world and keep in touch with friends.

  26. Hi Julia
    It's like my country Iran

  27. Anonymous8:03 pm

    I support free speech, but there must be some rules.
    BUT when it comes to GOD, Prophets or religions
    these are RED Lines you can't cross, you can't make fun of them.

  28. This is sad but I think people forget that we Westerners even poke fun at Jesus and our own religions. Non Sequitor, that one show that ends in Park (can't remember the name) and other shows and cartoons have satirized Jesus and Christianity. It doesn't mean that it makes the situation with Pakistan banning Youtube & Facebook any better, but it does show that it isn't limited to JUST Islam. I can't think of a religion that hasn't been the butt of a joke. Every one I can think of has been satirized in one way or another.

    We discussed these cartoons at length in my Contemporary History of Non-Western Civilization. I sat next to Muslim and she saw these exact comic panels too. I want to point out that not every Muslim finds these offensive; the woman I refer to found them humorous as she understood it was nothing more than a joke. They weren't meant to be offensive in any way. These cartoons where originally published in 2007 and you can find them on any number of sites, not just Facebook and Youtube.

    Religion is like race, gender, sexuality and politics in the fact that people can take it personally and become defensive. It's important to understand that different parts of the world don't view things the same way as Westerners do and we need to be sensitive to that. We shouldn't walk on eggshells, but we shouldn't be insensitive. There will always be people who are more devoted to their religion or cause and there will always be others that are more flexible. I think Julia explains it well.

  29. Anonymous11:16 am

    Religions of peace and tolerance should be able to weather criticism and hostility or even ridicule. They should respond with "peace" and "tolerance" when someone criticises them or makes fun of their beliefs. If your religion is spoken about in ways you find incorrect or disrespectful, you should pray for those people (as I presume religion dictates), or aim to correct any misinformation.

    I think christianity, judaism and islam should all be subject to criticism, and in fact, I think they are. These are all human institutions and ideas (religions are), and as such they should be open to scrutiny and people should be able to openly argue as to whether they make people's lives better or worse (and I think this is quite a raging debate). No one gets to truth by stifling debate and discussion, and insisting people shut up in the name of respect like we are children on a playground. Adults can adhere to their beliefs even when others find them questionable.

    Pretty soon we'll be seeing arguments that we can't say anything about ethnic cleansing and genocide because we might offend the beliefs of the people who engage in these practices. Beliefs (that lead to actions, things like censorship) should be examined and spoken about critically in the light of day.

    And it isn't free speech if there are rules (like no criticising religion, or no criticising democracy and capitalism). That's called censorship - you may say what you like as long as I approve.

    Thank goodness the makeup discussion isn't like this: you can say anything you want as long as you don't criticise MAC, or Revlon. Freedom of makeup as long as you don't criticise something I like. Let's be adults and allow other people to disagree with us.

  30. Verde6:02 pm

    I absolutely agree with Julia that freedom of speech should be guaranteed always. There are already laws agains the improper use of freedom of speech, like promoting violence, etc., so I don't see the need for further restrictions.

    And to religious people who are offended by criticism against their religion, I have to say: I am an atheist and a scientist and I am constantly "offended" by religious content in the media, such as anti-abortion or anti-gay mariage or anti-evolution campaigns. I believe there is a great deal of hypocrisy concerning religion, like it's given a status that is above any other form of personal idea or belief. Example: it would be wrong for me to criticize catholicism, but it would be OK for someone to criticize socialism. Because, apparently, non-religious ideas are not important and don't need to be respected. Enough with the double standard!

    I am in favor of people expressing their religious beliefs, even though I am against them and quite often they include insulting me. But I understand that mine is not the only truth, and no person or government should dictate what is OK or not OK to say

  31. Hi Julia, I'm Sara from Pakistan. I'm really glad that you mentioned this topic.
    All I have to say is that we really respect what one has to say and we listen! But there are some things that one should understand and respect about others.
    First of all I want to ask that would you go and ridicule a crippled person just because his oddly-angled legs seems ridiculous to you?
    We love our religion and consider it above our families, even above our own lives. That's what is most important thing for us. We're attached to our religion not emotionally but almost in every way. What I want to say is that If the Westerners wants 'us' to understand 'their' freedom of speech, 'they' should also try to understand 'our' devotion to our religion.
    It could be a fashion to make fun of everything in West just for... I don't know 'fun'?! But it is NOT for us.
    And KATE... If you think you can counterbalance everything by saying that you people make fun of even Jesus Christ... I have only one answer for you I'd have protested the same way if it were even a Draw Christ Day! I'm a Muslim but I respect all holy personalities, I respect all religions!

  32. Anonymous11:53 am

    i m wajiha from pakistan i m 17
    love da makeup u do..its fabulous...
    i loved da arabic totorial!

  33. wajiha11:57 am

    i m from pakistan nd i think the government has taken a nice step! and nice makeup totorialz...
    youtube is enabled now here..

  34. Sarah--I wasn't trying to counterbalance anything. I was merely pointing out that Islam is not the only religion that has been satirized in cartoon strips or other forms of media. Does it make it better that other religions are ridiculed? It depends on your point of view. For some, this is a way to desensitize such a hot topic. Others are offended.

    Believe it or not, people do ridicule others over things they can't change. Yes, I've seen people ridicule someone in a wheelchair or with a crippled leg. I was ridiculed and severely bullied for being Autistic, Epileptic, and having Cerebral Palsy. That does not mean I go around snapping at others because I've been offended. So please be courteous and respectful of other people's views and opinions; also, please don't yell mine or anyone else's name. This is meant to be a respectful and intelligent debate, not a place to yell.

  35. Fristly I'm sorry if you felt it rude but I just wanted to highlight your name and that's it.
    And I don't know how you took that point Kate! I've already said I respect every religion and I want none to be ridiculed so it was clearly not my point.
    And lastly it's very surprising for me to know that people ridicule each other like that there but in our society we don't or if we do it's on a very low percentage and considered as idiots not to be worth of any attention.
    Still Kate religion is very important to us and in no way it is allowed to be ridiculed by anyone... it's like oxygen, there's no alternative or flexibility about it.

  36. Anonymous4:15 am

    Hi Julia,

    I was looking at your arabian eye makeup. I liked it a lot. Actually i would say that each and every person on this earth should respect all religion whatever on which they beleive in their faiths and show good deeds by their actions. Thanks & Best Regards to all.

  37. Misschevious, I just want to say while I understand that there are some extreme Islamist groups is Europe; that shouldn't justify inflammatory cartoons. People keep saying that Muslims are Europe's new Jews and it's the truth. If you read history books, the holocaust started the same way; with the joking that wasn't "serious." But these cartoon strips aren't meant to be a joke they are meant to be inflammatory and people can't seem to see that or admit it. People are always poking fun at alqaeda and osama bin laden extra and that stuff is funny but cartoons of mohamed as a terrorist is not funny nor is it meant to be funny, it's meant to inflame and insult.
    Poking fun at a religion is totally different than being inflammatory and bigoted, sorry. Also freedom of speech is also a red herring and a point that is moot. There are lots of things that we "could" say but we don't due to personal judgment and respect so let's not lie to ourselves.

    Of course I don't agree with the censorship of facebook or youtube anywhere.

  38. Anonymous8:03 pm

    First of all, if you want respect give it, you cant call all Americans IGNORANT and say that we are offending you when you are doing the exact same "anonymous". I'm american I have my own opinion just like everyone else, and I am not ignorant, you cant bash some one from being from a certain country. Just because some big known Americans can act like idiots doesn't mean we are all like that. They do not represent me. So don't judge people you don't know. Obviously you are the ignorant one sitting behind your computer judging people from what you see in the media. The media is not the people of america. And secondly, if I don't like a certain site I simply don't go on it! Duh, that doesn't mean that they have the right to take it away from everyone. You don't like it don't look at it. So there for that country does control their people, its obvious , and its not right. People say judgmental things about everyone, not just that certain religion and they always will, you cant change them, but you should not let it get to you, because then you already lose and they feed off of that. Just because the ruler of your country feels a certain way doesn't mean it has to be taken away from everyone.
    And lastly I love america, I may not like every president of the things they do. But I still love my country, and maybe you should come over and meet ACTUAL (not what you see on TV) people and you might change your mind. How can you expect everyone to get along when you are being just as judgmental as they are?
    Thank you