WordPress blocks me again at the behest of Pakistan

I thought my entire website had already been blocked by WordPress in the country of Pakistan after the Pakistani government complained that my posts were “extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan.” So imagine my surprise when I got another note from WordPress yesterday, telling me that the Pakistani government had complained about the content of one of my posts from three years ago (some Muslim Pecksniff must have been rooting around and found it). As with the last time, WordPress decided to remove the offending content from whatever was sent to Pakistan. The correspondence from WordPress, enclosing the complaint from the Pakistani government, follows:

(Automattic)

Nov 19, 22:37 UTC

Hello,

A Pakistan authority has demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site:

https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/momo1web.jpg?w=400&h=585

Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region. As a result, we have disabled this content only 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.

Signed by a WordPress “Community Guardian”

THE COMPLAINT:

— 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 web pages hosted on your platform are extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The same has also been declared blasphemous under Pakistan Peal Code section 295- B and is in clear violation of Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 and Section 19 of Constitution of Pakistan.

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

[…]

  1. https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/momo1web.jpg?w=400&h=585

[…]

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

Apparently my entire site hadn’t been blocked, or there was some error. But YAY! I’m a blasphemer! You might ask what the “offending content” was. It is this cover from Charlie Hebdo, showing the Prophet (PBOH) leading a camel:

Well, we certainly can’t let the Pakistani people see that, can we? One thing is sure: I’ll never go to Pakistan, for there my life wouldn’t be worth a plugged rupee.

The Pakistani government is ridiculous, treating its population like children. But in fact they often act like children, as in the case of Aasiya Noreen (“Asia Bibi”), the Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years in prison after false accusations of blasphemy, recently set free by Pakistan’s High Court. Many Pakistanis rioted when she was freed, and the country was shut down, the schools closed, and the military sent out to keep order. There is a powerful political party in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), dedicated solely to the punishment of blasphemy. This resembles nothing more than a bunch of spoiled and entitled college students, and this is what happens when those kind of entitled people gain power.

Now my situation is nothing like that of Noreen, but it does show how, at least in Pakistan, religion has poisoned everything. I have nothing but contempt for a government that caters to superstition in this way, and kills people for drawing satirical pictures of a supposed prophet.

And that contempt extends to WordPress. They are in effect acting as an arm of the Pakistani government, censoring what should be free speech so they can sell their product in Pakistan. Facing a conflict between its avowed aims of free speech and its potential loss of revenue in Pakistan, WordPress has chosen to worship the god Mammon.

When this first happened, I complained to WordPress about their acting as an enforcer for Pakistan, but of course I got no reply. All you’ll see by way of justification is their statement above, “we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region.” Translation: “we have to block you because we need the money.”

It’s reprehensible, and people should know that WordPress does this.

32 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    How can you blaspheme something that does not exist?

  2. GBJames
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I wonder what the situation if WEIT moved over to WPEngine.

  3. Historian
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I find it interesting that the letter to you was signed by WordPress’s “Community Guardian.” Boy, does that smack of Big Brother.

  4. alexandra Moffat
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I could find no way to contact WP in order to protest its timidity regarding blasphemy. Guess it doesn’t want to hear complaints.
    Cowards.

    • Posted November 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      WordPress is owned by Automattic (note the double t), who can be reached at: https://automattic.com/contact/ They also have a Twitter presence.

      I’ve complained to both when PCC(E)’s posts were blocked. I did not receive even an acknowledgment that my comment was received. I wish you better luck.

  5. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    But in fact they often act like children

    Children with nuclear weapons.

    And that contempt extends to WordPress. They are in effect acting as an arm of the Pakistani government, censoring what should be free speech so they can sell their product in Pakistan.

    They’re a business.

  6. Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Mohammed had a six year old wife, called Aisha didn’t he? Blasphemy is wrong, but kiddie fiddling is OK?

    • Richard Sanderson
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      I think most Islamic scholars say she was nine.

      Not that that makes any difference.

      PS – Somebody once tried to counter my criticisms of Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha, by pointing out various historical figures, including Kings of England, married minors. True, I responded, but I don’t hold up any of those as the “perfect man”. Or worship them. Huge difference!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        No, most Islamic scholars say Aisha was married at six-seven & the marriage was consummated at nine-ten.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Jerry

    WordPress.com techies are called Happiness Engineers… Here’s a jobs advert for such

    You’re on WordPress.com ~ maybe switch to WordPress.org & self-host. Download the XML file which should contain your entire site & migrate over. OUTLINE OF HOW TO DO IT

    .org is more flexible anyway & you’ll be able to offer readers new features they’ve been asking for. Many readers I’m guessing would contribute a couple of dollars each to pay for hosting & for a nerd to migrate & maintain your site [Wordpress.com charge around $130 to perform the migration if you don’t want to do it yourself]

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      P.S. Step 6 in the 2nd link explains how to automatically redirect your existing readers [around $13/year] & keep your SEO rankings on Google etc.

    • ploubere
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Good idea, I second the suggestion.

    • Posted November 21, 2018 at 4:23 am | Permalink

      I’d be happy to chip in.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The posts on consuming vast quantities of comestibles in Paris (“Paris is no longer Paris”<- don’t ask) offends my deeply and sincerely held beliefs.

    … but OHHHH its so good to look at! AHEM

    AHEM

    I mean

    I mean

    Well, I suppose I could just not read it. Or press the “delete” button…

  9. Milton Zmijewski
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Keep up the good work.

  10. rickflick
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It is sad to think that a country of 200,000 people is so god-soaked. I know there is a significant educated and secular subset, but even when they control political power, they must kowtow to the seething millions of moral midgets and the imams who shepherd them. The society is always at risk of breaking into murderous mobs. I wonder how they will ever rise above the foolishness. No, I don’t think you’ll see me visiting there either.

    • nwalsh
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      More like 200,000,000. of em

  11. Alan Jardine
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    What’s offensive about the picture?
    And the pecksniff must have rooted around for 3 years of articles to find it so that he could get offended?
    Jeez! (Sorry if I blasphemed.)

  12. Colin
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    To all of these adult Pakistanis with infantile minds: If your primitive, supernatural beliefs are so fantastically delicate that they cannot withstand scrutiny, and your collective faces turn purple with rage as such trivial and manufactured transgressions, then perhaps those beliefs aren’t worth holding.

  13. richard Benton
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    what can we do to change such insanity? I suppose only time can do it? Shut a country over the release of one individual. This obviously is based on the profound insecurity of faith in general. How could allah the almighty be affected in anyway.(spell check insisted I capitalize allah.Why didn’t he do it?)we should publicize the dissidents who live in Pakistan. Are there any?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      “We” can do nothing [I don’t know which country you are, for me “we” = UK]. For example the USA cut a huge chunk out of its military [anti-terrorism] aid to Pakistan recently which only resulted in China & Pakistan becoming even closer ‘best buds’ & meanwhile Pakistan seeks yet another bailout from the IMF. No government, or group of governments [EU], develops their foreign policy on the basis of abuse of freedoms & human rights although that might be part of the excuse for decisions made.

      There are no publicly ‘out there’ dissidents living in Pakistan & walking around freely – every form of dissent is linked back to an insult to Islam & that leads to one place only. Remember that ‘dissent’ can consist of a small mis-gesture such as a woman looking at a guy sideways. Even the journalists who report on dissent are risking their lives if they are not word wizards & no lawyer who wishes to draw a pension wants to get involved with representing dissenters – the one who represented Asia Noreen, Saif Mulook, has left the country.

      A Pakistani female politician, Sherry Rehman, called for the removal of the death penalty for blasphemy a few years back & her life was instant hell. She withdrew her suggestion years later, but I don’t think she’ll ever be entirely safe in her homeland again [she still lives & works there as a politician]. Whenever there’s a case in court involving any dissent/blasphemy the galleries fill with religious loons out for blood. Very intimidating.

  14. nay
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I wonder if your posts about WP censoring you are also censored, particularly if you include a link or screenshot of the censored post. Do they also censor ugly political views, hate mongering, race baiting, anti-gay, anti-women, kiddie porn, etc.? I don’t know; I’m just glad you didn’t switch to that other site with the pop-up ads (sheesh).
    Anyway, as someone noted above, WP is a business – don’t yell at them for trying to protect their revenue stream – and if Pakistan blocks WP itself, then all their other sites will also lose their readers. If WP is able to block individual posts, then the rest of your site remains available, including the links to your books (!). Can you find out if that is what is happening or is your whole site blocked?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      If you look at the list of 24 blocked pages in a previous post:
      https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/wordpress-disables-many-posts-that-hurt-muslim-sentiments/

      they all (I think – I only checked a few links) contained Mohammed cartoons.

      As I recall, all the WEIT pages that were blocked in Pakistan contained Mohammed cartoons. None of the WEIT pages verbally criticising Islam or religion (and some of those had some highly offensive comments, as comments sections always do) were blocked.
      So my conclusion is, they’re ultra-sensitive to cartoons depicting the Prophet, not so much to anything else.

      However, they finally (allegedly) blocked the whole of WEIT because of the Jesus’n’Mo cartoons. I say ‘allegedly’ because obviously at least one page got through. Possibly it was only ‘new’ WEIT posts they blocked and not back issues.

      cr

  15. Posted November 20, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Religion poisons everything, but a lot of the time, so does the profit motive … (and together, oh boy!)

  16. CAS
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    More blasphemers please. With an all powerful god, why do Muslims need whiny humans to enforce their blasphemy laws?
    As the Roman law maxim says: “Let the gods avenge themselves.”

  17. ploubere
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately the country is overrun with such extremely ignorant and violent barbarians that were that image not censored it would likely result in murderous riots with dozens dead. There is no apparent solution to this dilemma.

  18. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me likely that WordPress only blocks (at the demand of the Pakistani censors office) new WEIT pages from being accessed from Pakistan. I would guess old pages remain accessible unless blocked on a page-by-page basis (like this one). That’s a complete guess but it would account for the observed facts.

    It also seems that it’s only the cartoons that attract the censor’s attention. Other written material usually seems to slide under the radar.

    WordPress is a business. Of course they ‘need the money’. So they can distribute articles that people can read on their computers full of Chinese made chips notwithstanding China’s dubious Internet-blocking and human rights record. These are never single-issue situations.

    If WP refuses to ‘cooperate’ with the Pakistani censor then Pakistan could block all of WP including the 30% of all Internet blogs that it hosts (Wikipedia figure). Happened in Turkey in 2007. How would that benefit Pakistanis?

    cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 20, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Ugh.
      “I would guess old pages remain accessible unless blocked on a page-by-page basis (like this one).”

      I meant of course, ‘like the Charlie Hebdo-related page in question’. Not like this page right here.

      cr

  19. Posted November 21, 2018 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    I thought my entire website had already been blocked by WordPress … So imagine my surprise when I got another note from WordPress yesterday, telling me that the Pakistani government had complained about the content of one of my posts from three years ago … Web Analysis Team of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

    The Web Analysis Team of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority probably has an internet connection that is not subject to the restrictions imposed by the Pakistan government. In my head, I imagine an office full of people constantly googling the internet for known depictions of Mohammed so that they can pre-emptively protect the delicate sensibilities of their citizens (I bet they don’t extend the same courtesy to their Christian citizens with respect to blasphemous images of Christ).

    It’s not hard to imagine them finding and reporting an old image off your web site not realising that most of their compatriots already can’t access it.

    • Posted November 21, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      I find it almost heartening that the censors don’t report all of whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com, but just selected pages.

      That might explain why the request for censorship keeps happening.

  20. Posted November 22, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Shame on WordPress 😦

  21. Diane G
    Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    sub


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