WordPress completely blocks this site in Pakistan because I’ve offended Muslims

Well, once again WordPress has blocked me in Pakistan: not just one cartoon like last time, but the entire site, apparently forever. Nobody in Pakistan will ever see anything on WEIT unless they have “workarounds.”  And, once again, it’s because I posted Jesus and Mo cartoons, which offend Muslims. I just received this email from the WordPress “community guardian” (bolding is mine):

Hello,

A Pakistan authority has issued a demand to block your WordPress.com site:

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region. As a result, your site is now inaccessible for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked.

Visitors from outside of Pakistan are not affected.

You and your readers may be interested in these suggestions for bypassing Internet restrictions.

For your reference, we have included a copy of the complaint. No reply is necessary, but please let us know if you have any questions.

— Begin complaint —
Dear WordPress Team,

I am writing on behalf of Web Analysis Team of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) which has been designated for taking appropriate measures for regulating Internet Content in line with the prevailing laws of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In lieu of above it is highlighted that few of the webpages hosted on your platform are extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The URL’s mentioned are clearly in violation of Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 and Section 19 of Constitution of Pakistan.

The below mentioned websites can be found on following URL’s:-

S.No

URL

22

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/2014-12-03.png

23

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/jesus-n-mo-and-the-omnibenevolent-god/

24

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/2014-10-2114.png

25

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/jesus-n-mo-n-creationism/

26

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-and-mo.png

27

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/jesus-n-mo-tackle-the-ontological-argument/

28

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/2014-06-18.png?w=1000

[…]

You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world by discontinuation of hosting of these websites for viewership in Pakistan with immediate effect. We will be happy to entertain any query if deemed necessary and looking forward for your favorable response at your earliest.

Regards

Web Analysis Team
— End complaint —

Name redacted. – Community Guardian

WordPress.com

As you see, what was objectionable to the Pakistani authorities, based on some peoples’ complaints, was my reposting of Jesus and Mo cartoons.

What really bothers me this time is that Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority has the power to block this site itself; it doesn’t have to ask WordPress to do its dirty work for it. But, as you see above, it’s easier for WordPress just to block me so they can keep making money when their other sites are viewed in Pakistan.  That way they keep on good terms with the Pakistani government, which, I suppose, would block all WordPress sites if they got sufficiently pissed off.

I pay a decent sum of money to WordPress to keep this site going: I pay for hosting, for the right to put up an unlimited number of photos, and even to keep ads off the site. In return, WordPress, which claims that it is “committed to freedom of speech”, isn’t really—not when it acts as a censor itself at the behest of a foreign government. This, for example, is what WordPress says at its “Beat Censorship” page (their emphasis):

Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.

There are a number of ways available to bypass these restrictions. As part of our commitment to freedom of speech, we have listed some of the possibilities below. Bear in mind that the most effective route will depend on where you are connecting from. . .

As far as I’m concerned, that is BS. Yes, they list ways to bypass restrictions, but they also are putting the restrictions in place themselves. I emphasize once again: it is not Pakistan that is censoring me, but WordPress, which is doing so to keep its profitability in that region.

I’ve already written to WordPress protesting the previous censoring of a single Jesus and Mo cartoon. They did not respond. Some “commitment to freedom of speech”!

Well, so be it. My Jesus and Mo cartoons (but not my many posts criticizing Islam) have “hurt the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan.” Those who object are acting like spoiled children, for they don’t have to look at my site! And the Pakistani government is acting like a parent who puts site-blocking software on their childrens’ computers.  Needless to say, Islam is the only faith that would cause something like this to happen. Thanks, WordPress, for acting as censors on behalf of Pakistan! Why couldn’t you just let Pakistan block me by itself?

96 Comments

  1. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Not unexpected. There’s no such thing as moderate outrage.

  2. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    In the meantime, please repost the link to Jesus and Mo (http://www.jesusandmo.net/) so your subscribers can get the feed. I do. I think the site also has a work-around for places it’s banned. Onward through the fog.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I guess what we have here is the WordPress, North Korean Addition. By the way, I think the court just ruled on collecting state taxes on the internet. I did not take the time to read it but looks like the states can now get this.

  4. GBJames
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    It is just a matter of time before the entire site is blocked I fear

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      It IS blocked, not just Jesus and Mo. As WordPress says above:

      “your site is now inaccessible for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan.”

      • GBJames
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Of course. Doh. Jesus and Mo was just the excuse.

  5. Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The problem with the WordPress policy – apart from it being cowardice – is that it doesn’t do anything to change the status quo. Your site is now blocked which will inconvenience probably a few hundred or thousand people in Pakistan. Apart from that, nothing will change.

    If WordPress had the courage to stand up for the principles they say they have, they would tell the government of Pakistan to go forth and multiply, so to speak. WordPress would then get blocked, probably inconveniencing millions of people in Pakistan and maybe motivating them to put some pressure on their government to stop the censorship.

    OK, so it may not work, but the current policy definitely isn’t going to work.

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      There is a (wee) possibility the Average Joe or Jo Pakistani will succumb to the forbidden fruit effect and find other sources to view j&m and WEIT Curiosity “kills” the Caliphate?😬

      • W.T. Effingham
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        W.E.I.T..

    • Historian
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      WordPress is a business. As such, adherence to principles such as freedom of speech only comes into play when they don’t affect the bottom line. The company concluded that allowing this site in Pakistan was a net negative to the health of the business. This is not surprising and very few businesses would do otherwise. Whether or not WordPress is right in its analysis would be difficult for an outsider to determine.

      • BJ
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. Honestly, if I was in a position of power at WordPress, it would be my responsibility (to my boss and investors) to take whatever position best protects the company’s financial interests. From that perspective, this is almost certainly the right choice.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          I don’t really see it that way. First of all Pakistan is just one destination, one country. How much of WordPress business is in Pakistan compared to the rest of the world? Not much. The customers at WordPress are the people, such as PCC. So WordPress is saying screw my customer I am more interested in keeping Pakistan happy. Sure you have to look at the bottom line but my bet is, Pakistan requests this of lots of WordPress customers besides Jerry Coyne. It is chick-shit and if I were needing the service for a web site, I would skip this one.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted June 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Imo, the WordPress software is the best currently around so it’s hard to avoid. However, having my website in my name and just usng the software avoids this stuff. I also lose some benfits, but I’m unlikely ever to be popular enough for that to matter.

            I think that if WordPress was really committed to free speech, they’d sort out the workaround for WEIT thmselves, but I can understand why they don’t do that

          • BJ
            Posted June 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think it’s about what percentage of their business is in Pakistan, but still, Pakistan is a country with nearly 200 million people. Is five biggest cities (where you’re most likely to get internet business) alone have nearly 50 million people. I’m sure they make plenty of money there, and I imagine that what they (theoretically, if at all) might lose from people like Jerry or others who want to take a stand is negligible in comparison.

        • Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          So would I but I wouldn’t lie about my commitment to free speech.

        • Posted June 23, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          I agree. The defense of the basic principles of civilization isn’t the job of companies that have to survive at the market.

      • eric
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        AIUI the company that owns WordPress is Automattic, and they are not publicly traded. No stockholders. So absolutely yes the company could put freedom of speech ahead of profits. The owners can make ‘mission over money’ decisions any time they want, because they are not beholden to stockholders to increase revenue. It’s valued at over a billion in assets and has less than a thousand employees, so it’s hardly like they are operating on a knife edge.

        So, IMO, that a web platform company chooses not to put free speech over money is an explanation for their behavior, but not really any sort of ethical justification.

        • BJ
          Posted June 21, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Privately owned doesn’t mean that they don’t have shareholders. A company that large almost certainly has many shareholders, a board of directors, etc.

      • Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        If you are a company that says you are committed to free speech, you should be committed to free speech, not committed to free speech unless it adversely affects your profits.

  6. Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    There are, of course, many work-arounds from the Pakistani side (they could use a VPN, for instance so that they don’t appear to be searching from Pakistan). Its worrying that WordPress do the censoring, however. On this specific issue one of the upsides of the internet is that its increasingly hard to hide from dissenting views. This is obviously of inestimable value to places still locked into theocracy–whcih is why they (and other authoritarians) want to censor it. I’d be astonished if WordPress change their views–unless they start receiving boycotts from users such as yourself.

  7. BJ
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    This is a perfect encapsulation of repercussions from blasphemy laws/lack of free speech (in both law and as societal ideal). This is low-level: it’s just a single website being blocked. But Imagine applying this standard to everything, and you have an excellent example of how censorship shuts down specific works/categories, and then spreads outward, its tendrils reaching further and further. Apparently, the Pakistani government can claim that anything is blasphemous/offensive to Muslims, and then it ends up blocked. This kind of censorship grows even better with the internet and online forums.

  8. Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Good on you! You will know them by their actions, it is said.

    If you aren’t pushing the line, you have no idea where it is. Ask yourself, if you took no action against any individual, of what value is their sense of offense?

  9. Walt Jones
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    “You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world”

    You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in our relationship by paying up, so Rocco doesn’t have to break your legs.

  10. Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    “Unfortunately, we must comply…”

    Sounds like the Nuremberg defense.

  11. Fat Bastard
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The endless refrain from Muslims that their feelings are hurt is like the whine of a petulant child. The proper response is. “So what? Grow the fuck up!

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t work with over a billion Muslims and counting, and the hardliners more prone to use coercion and force than any other group.

  12. DrBrydon
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I think it’s better that the site was blocked by authorities in Pakistan, rather than WordPress doing it for them. First, it shows that Pakistan itself is engaging in censorship. Second, I think internet companies cave to local pressures far too much. It shows that they are more interested in profits than in free speech. In many cases I’ve seen, the internet company pro-actively censors things they identify as hate speech to preempt local action against them. This secondary censorship doesn’t require any due process on the part of the local government. We’ve seen this repeatedly with folks like YouTube and Facebook just in the EU.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      You’ve missed the gist here…. The Pakistani authorities complained but it was WordPress that blocked the site.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        I guess I did partly, but at least Pakistan actually said to do so.

  13. caracal
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    “I pay a decent sum of money to WordPress to keep this site going: I pay for hosting, for the right to put up an unlimited number of photos, and even to keep ads off the site.”

    1. I (and I suspect may other) really appreciate “no ads”.

    2. Are there other hosting sites that have a better policy? You could take you business elsewhere.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there are hosting sites with better policies.

  14. Dave137
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m offended by their offense. Can I block Pakistan now?

    • Wunold
      Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      As a matter of fact, you could do so. Just search the web for “Pakistan ip range” and then find out how to block ip ranges in your operating system. For most systems, it should suffice to map those ip ranges to [i]localhost[/i] (i.e. your own machine).

      • Wunold
        Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:29 am | Permalink

        I meant localhost. The [] tags are just my messed up attempt to use italics. 😛

  15. Liz
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Is there any way to speak to the Web Analysis Team of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority directly?

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Even if it is possible do you really think it will do anything at all? These are not rational people.

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      That would, as mikeyc says, be a completely futile exercise. What could I possibly say to them that would make them allow me to put up “blasphemous” cartoons?

      • Patrick Cardon
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Problem with believers is that the argument of “you don’t like it, don’t read it” never holds up. They’re too afraid that the others (friends, family, kids) they are brainwashing might get a glimpse of something else and not conform anymore. Never forget religion for the masses is often held in place by force. Remove that force and it’ll melt like ice.

      • Liz
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know exactly and you’re right. This might sound corny and it might be naïve of me, but maybe saying something is worth a try. I might say something like – leave the site unblocked so readers in Pakistan can send in pictures of Pakistani wildlife. Encourage them to have more people in Pakistan be involved in that way. Maybe someone can explain to them not to take the cartoons too seriously. I have no idea.

        • Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Charlie Hebdo.

          • Liz
            Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            I am going to unbrainwash one of them in my lifetime.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Well, WEIT has a split personality.

        One side is biological/evolution/science/interesting animals (and, unlike Turkey, nobody in Pakistan seems to have objected to the ‘evolution’ content).

        The other is political/religious, most notably the J&M cartoons. (Again, interestingly, nobody in Pakistan seems to have objected to much of the content or comments which could be described as ‘offensive to Muslims’ – other than the cartoons.)

        I’ll float an idea which is probably a non-starter – for the benefit of your Pakistani readership you could split your site into two and accept that the ‘political’ side may get banned in Pakistan from time to time. That way they could still get their quota of scientific content. One could argue that that’s better than nothing.

        But it seems that the Pakistan government is determined its citizens won’t see J&M. All the other content of WEIT is just collateral damage.

        cr

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      If one goes to the PTA’s website, there are ways to contact them https://www.pta.gov.pk/en/contact-us. There are several choices, one specifically to report blasphemous URL. Fat chance it’ll do any good.

      I’m tempted to use the contact address to report a blasphemous URL and fill my response with blasphemies and curses in Urdu, but I realize that would be childish, so it remains active only in my mind.

      • Liz
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.

  16. Mike Anderson
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Get your own domain name. There’s no good reason to be under the thumb of wordpress.com.

    Authorities can still block you, but it won’t be as easy as applying leverage to a company like wordpress.com.

  17. Mike Anderson
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    It looks like you already own whyevolutionistrue.com

    Have that hosted by a service that doesn’t censor like wordpress.com, then move the content there. You can still use wordpress software to manage the site. Then have whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com redirect to whyevolutionistrue.com. In all emails – anywhere you talk about your website – refer to the new domain name.

    If you’re not into the web nuts and bolts, get a student or intern to set it up. Or simply hire a wordpress developer. If done right will be minimal impact to you.

    Minimize your dependency on corporations – that was what the internet used to be about, before google and facebook took over.

  18. busterggi
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Allah is a puny god but aren’t they all?

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      The “Jesus” part of Jesus’n’Mo didn’t make any Christian-majority country object against the cartoons or ban WEIT.

  19. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The one place WEIT would do the most good, paradoxically, is the one place that censorsed it.

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Is it the only place?

  20. Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I didn’t see that Pakistan threatened to cut off all WordPress sites in Pakistan. Is that just paranoia on the part of WordPress?

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Who knows? But clearly WordPress is scared that if they don’t comply with Pakistan’s request, other business-hurting actions by that country could follow.

    • mirandaga
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      The fact that Pakistan filed a complaint/request rather than just block the WEIT site themselves would suggest that they don’t have the power to single out individual sites to block. Otherwise why wouldn’t they have just blocked the site and have done with it? If that’s the case, then WordPress’s options were either to block WEIT or refuse to do so and risk having Pakistan block all 75 million websites that use WordPress. Is that an accurate reading of the situation or am I missing something?

      • GBJames
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Why might they? To make a show of it. To create a broader impact by involving more people in the censorship. To attempt to shame WordPress into expanding the censorship.

        That part isn’t even the smallest bit of mystery.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted June 21, 2018 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          The Wikipedia page

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Pakistan
          (see ‘Social media and platform blocking’)

          seems to support Mirandaga’s conjecture.

          Pakistan blocked all of Youtube for years.

          cr

          • GBJames
            Posted June 22, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

            I can’t say I see how. (Regarding a purported inability to block WEIT.)

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted June 24, 2018 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

              See my comment at #37 below for the relevant quotes e.g. ” inability to filter out select content.”

              (Sorry for the late reply, for some reason WP no longer emails me when a comment of mine is replied to)

              cr

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      We are talking about the country where a Christian woman has been sentenced to death for saying that Jesus was better than Mohammed, and every politician defending her has been assassinated.

  21. Curtis
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t blame WordPress at all. Google left China in 2010 and it did not help the average Chinese in anyway. It only paved the way for more subservient Chinese companies.

    IMO, staying in Pakistan is better than leaving. For a while, Pakistanis had the ability to read WEIT. By obeying the censors, WOrdPress will allow some other site to be viewed for a while.

    It certainly feels wrong but, from a practical point of view, I think it is the right decision. Fighting or leaving will accomplish nothing.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      But you see WordPress has it’s business attitude backwards. Are they in this for customers or for clickers that use the site. WordPress is telling us they don’t care about the customer, period.

      • Curtis
        Posted June 21, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        How many customers will they have in Pakistan if they stand up to the Pakistani government? Absolutely none. From a moral point of view, they should stand up for WEIT. From a practical point of view, it’s a battle they cannot win.

        I say be practical but I can certainly understand people disagreeing.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 21, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          I don’t care about the battle but why should WordPress. You generally care about your customer. I wonder, when you sign up for this service that PCC has here, is there something in print large enough to read that says, we will cut you off in any country that is offended with your site. Now, pay up please. The problem with all the folks out there on the internet is they seem to have become like our politicians. Nothing matters but the money. We don’t give a damn about serving our customer, just making money. And isn’t that the problem over at face book or two-faced, whatever you want to call it. They didn’t mind that Russia was all over their platform as long as the money was rolling in.

      • Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        I think the clickers are the customers because they see the ads. Prof. Coyne pays to avoid ads and so is a true customer, but most WordPress bloggers aren’t.

  22. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Let me join others in congratulating and thanking our host for maintaining this fine and ad-free website. Blasphemophobia and censorship in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is both an old story, and a tragedy for those of its citizens who are at home in the modern world. We can probably look forward to one entertaining development in the near future: certain of the heroines of the Women’s March in the USA will declaim that censorship is really a form of freedom.

  23. Pliny the in Between
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I am extremely offended that only J+M is cited as offensive

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      🙂

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Keep up the good work, PtiB; you’re bound to be deemed offensive in Pakistan soon, too.

  24. Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Treat it as an honor. You know you are doing something right if your site is banned in Pakistan! There ought to be a “Banned in Pakistan” badge of some kind on your home page.

    • Posted June 21, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Anyone remember when “Banned in Boston!” was a selling point?

      • Posted June 21, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes! Though Wikipedia says it’s from the 19th century.

  25. Mark R.
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The thin skin of religion is easily breached. Boo-hoo, poor wittle allah haz a hurt feeling.

  26. nicky
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Caving in to Islamic fundamentalist pressure, it is deeply unconscionable. Can’t think of a way to punish WordPress properly, but I would if I could, they deserve it.
    “contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world”? by giving in to Islamic fundamentalists? No, one can only contribute to peace and harmony in the world by exposing the vacuity of ideas that promote strife and dissonance, ie. religious -in case Islamic- fundamentalism.
    The Islamic ideology is belligerent, expansionist, supremacist, deeply misogynistic, homophobic, intolerant, petty, etc., etc., how can protecting that possibly promote peace and harmony?
    I bet if WordPress and Internet had existed in the 1930’s they would have blocked WEIT in the Reich for offending the feelings of the Nazis, and for obstructing peace and harmony.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “I bet if WordPress and Internet had existed in the 1930’s they would have blocked WEIT in the Reich for offending the feelings of the Nazis, and for obstructing peace and harmony.”

      Of course they would, because the Nazis were pawerful and were holding Germany (and then other countries, too).

      To me, the problem is that Pakistan is held by militant Islamic fundamentalists, not that a company cares for its profit more than about principles. The latter is normal for a company. The only companies known to me that care more about principles are Christian fundie bakers refusing gay wedding cakes.

  27. Tom Czarny
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    There is much I could say regarding this, but i’ll let the Master do his own Hitch-slapping: https://youtu.be/DgukXPbGS1I

    • Tom Czarny
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Omg, that was NOT the link I intended. How did that happen? THIS is the one I meant (although JB was great): https://youtu.be/HHwvT4Xl5Uo

  28. yazikus
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    A loss for the good folks of Pakistan.

  29. Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Keep up the good work. You know you’re winning when religious tards censor you.

  30. Darren Garrison
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I’ve been wondering for years how Jesus and Mo has avoided stirring up Loud Muslim Outrage.

  31. eric
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Needless to say, Islam is the only faith that would cause something like this to happen.

    I suspect that’s only because there are few to none true Christian theocracies operating any more. Vatican city I guess.

    I strongly suspect that if the RCC or the Southern Baptists had the political power to censor anti-[their theology] websites, they’d happily do so. As an example, remember that the RCC in India leveled charges of blasphemy against Sanal Edamaruku to the point where he was forced to flee the country. Which is even more impressive given that no Hindus group in India was able to do anything to him a few years earlier, after he debunked a Hindu mystic’s claims on live TV.

    Actions like that tell me that the reason we “only” see Islam doing such bannings is because the various sects of Christianity lack the means…not the motivation.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the puritan instinct in any religion (and many other ideologies) is to strangle blasphemy in its crib at its first peep.

    • nicky
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I guess one could say that Christianity has been tamed, largely by the Enlightenment ands scientific discoveries.

      • Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately, scientific discoveries don’t bother Muslim fundies, and no Muslim Enlightenment is seen at the horizon either.

  32. dave eberth
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia has a brief but interesting piece on the history of website blocking in Pakistan.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Websites_blocked_in_Pakistan

    Apparently Word Press was blocked previously in 2015. YouTube and Facebook (no surprise) have also been at odds with the Pakistan at different times for including “blasphemous” content in their posts.

    Each time something like this happens a resolution is eventually found that excises the specific “offending” content from the site within the borders of Pakistan, and allows the website to continue functioning…thanks in large measure to Chinese filtering technology.

    This history also indicates that the Pakistani government has no intention of being reasoned with, or otherwise persuaded to allow “blasphemous” material to circulate. They seem to argue that it is a security threat, and one that encourages spontaneous and violent anti-blasphemy protests. So, this would appear to be about “who’s in control” not the free exchange of ideas and opinions. The Pakistani govt is playing to win. Word Press has played this game with Pakistan previously…and lost.

    I think its safe to say based on the foregoing that the blocking of WEIT in its entirety is a tactic in a larger strategic conflict with sites like Word Press, Youtube, Facebook, etc. Any pressure that gets applied by WEIT or Jerry, has to be applied to Word Press.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      “Pakistani government has no intention of being reasoned with, or otherwise persuaded to allow “blasphemous” material to circulate. They seem to argue that it is a security threat, and one that encourages spontaneous and violent anti-blasphemy protests.”

      This makes me think that it is only a matter of time before we see the same situation in the West.

  33. CAS
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Many Muslim majority countries are honor cultures, taking offense is standard practice. Pakistan certainly falls into this category.Taking revenge is another typical symptom of honor cultures, so watch your back. Sam Harris has had to take extra security measures at his talks.

  34. Posted June 21, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    WordPress doing the control freaks of Pakistan dirty work.
    “You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world…”
    freak! that’s big, in the world no less.
    How could you turn that down, well, by aiding anti free speech, expression, and the ignorance of religion, that’s how!

  35. SusanD
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that it’s YOUR job to “maintain peace and harmony in the world”. You, who doesn’t blow anybody up or hijack aircraft or randomly murder people or beat women senseless for showing an ankle. I hope you take this responsibility seriously…

  36. Posted June 21, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Now I feel bad. I only have a couple of pages blocked in Pakistan.

    I’ll have to up my game!

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can be too hard on WordPress. If they don’t agree to the Pakistani demand to block your site then either the Pakistanis will do it themselves or, if that is technically difficult for them, they will as you say “block all WordPress sites if they got sufficiently pissed off.” Or just block an entire range of IP addresses. I’ve been on the end of excessively zealous censorship before now.

    WordPress are just caught in the middle.

    There are bigger threats to Internet freedom. The MPAA’s greed over copyrights, and wannabe censors everywhere, are far more dangerous than just the Pakistani government. Yesterday, I’m embarrassed to say (because I’m usually a fan of the EU), an EU committee voted to recommend an Internet copyright-enforcement law that would require ‘filters’ to prevent copyrighted materials being uploaded. That means that if the ‘filters’ behave in typically heavy-handed fashion that, for example (as I read it) any such things as book reviews or quoted paragraphs – or images like, say, cartoons – could cause a page to be blocked.
    So far as I can see, me linking to this article:
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/20/eu-votes-for-copyright-law-that-would-make-internet-a-tool-for-control

    would be enough to incur either a block or a ‘copyright’ charge on WEIT.

    Of course such ‘filters’ could also be set to catch any reference to ‘Allah’.

    But did anybody here notice or email the MEP’s in a (futile as it turns out) attempt to persuade them to vote otherwise?

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted June 21, 2018 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      Probably relevant:

      From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Pakistan

      (excerpts:)
      (2013): The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, the telecom watchdog in the country, has already expressed its inability to filter out select content.

      On 8 February 2015, the government announced that YouTube will remain blocked ‘indefinitely’ because no tool or solution had been found which can totally block offensive content.[35]

      As September 2016, the ban has been lifted officially, as YouTube launched a local version for Pakistan.

      – in other words, it seems likely that the Pakistan government can’t selectively block WEIT or specific pages of same but it can block WordPress.

      It also seems from the Wikipedia article that censorship in Pakistan is inconsistent, sporadic and variable, sometimes heavy-handed. I would guess the total ban on WEIT is in retaliation for publishing another J&M cartoon after they objected to the first one. It seems odd to me that they’ve overlooked many, many other WEIT pages (and even more so many of the comments) that could have been deemed ‘offensive’. But maybe they only notice the cartoons.

      cr

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Such things make EU fans diminish in numbers, especially within the EU. It looks more and more dominated by control freaks.

  38. Petra Sierwald
    Posted June 21, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I am grateful for WEIT. Your measured and thoughtful reporting, as well as the civil commentaries posted on this site indicate that there is a community of reflective readers around the world. I am an optimist. The young generation in Pakistan and other restrictive societies will grow stronger and change the world. In the long run, the blocking of the WEIT site will be temporary. Thank you for what you are doing.

  39. SeekerOfTruth
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Those who complain about the invented ‘crime’ of blasphemy merely prove that their god doesn’t exist.

    An actual, omnipotent, universe creator wouldn’t need protection from our thoughts or comments.

  40. Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Again, it’s an unarguable admission of the weakness of their culture and beliefs.

  41. Jim Ebsary
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your site being banned. I wonder if WordPress has a list of sites Pakistan wants banned? It would likely be some very interesting reading. It would also be cool to see how many Pakistanis would access such a list.


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