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Bangladesh has become the latest country to block social networking site Facebook because of a page that asks people to draw their own images of the prophet Muhammad.
Clearly, this isn’t going to kill Facebook, which has nearly 500 million users. But it shows that what might have been considered a small protest is gathering steam in the Muslim world. Facebook is already facing a lot of opposition over its privacy rule changes, so the last thing it needs now is another controversy.
The Associated Press reported that chief telecommunications regulator Zia Ahmed said that the access has been temporarily blocked because of concern that caricatures of Muhammad might offend people in the Muslim-majority country. Such caricatures, even if they are intended to appear favorable, are considered blasphemy.
Pakistan blocked Facebook earlier because of the same page, dubbed Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. Thousands of people protested in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka over the incident last week.
Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous. Facebook is going to have to walk a tightrope on this, as it has to balance the need to expand internationally, the need to stand up to censorship, and the delicate matter of making sure its site isn’t offensive.
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