Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the emotions and feelings of Muslims must be respected. He labeled blasphemous content as an attempt to play with the emotions of the Muslim Ummah and directed authorities to prevent the spread of blasphemous content on social media by taking all necessary measures and ensuring that it does not circulate on the digital space in the future. “The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the benefactor of entire humanity,” said Nawaz.
Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.
But critics claim the real goal is silencing dissent that has flourished online about everything from politics and the military to freedom of speech and women’s rights. Being labeled as “blasphemous” in Pakistan can make a person the target of violence.
“The judge ordered the government to make a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with Muslim officials only to look into the blasphemy issue,” said advocate Tariq Asad, who represents the hardline Red Mosque which brought the case to court.