Calling Twitter's move of blocking several accounts in Pakistan to
prohibit access to "blasphemous" and "unethical" content as "violation
of basic human rights", a coalition of US-based organisations has urged
Islamabad to end social media censorship.
"We are deeply
disturbed to learn that government officials in Pakistan have, based on
the country's blasphemy laws, demanded that the micro-blogging site
Twitter censor both user accounts and individual posts that they have
deemed to be offensive to religious feelings of the Muslims in the
country," the coalition of more than a dozen organisations said in a
letter to the Pakistan Ambassador to the UN, Masood Khan.
is a violation of basic human rights," the letter said. Among the
members of the coalition are the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the
Ex-Muslims of North America, and a wide array of free thought groups.
letter reminds Pakistan of its obligations under Articles 18 and 19 of
the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provide
for freedom of thought, expression, belief and inquiry.
also reminds the country of its commitment under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed by Pakistan in 2008),
which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well
as freedom from coercion by the state.
content on Twitter simply because it may offend religious sensibilities,
and persecuting those who publish this content, are clear violations of
these principles to which Pakistan has agreed," the letter said.
ability to think freely, to have doubt, to investigate doubt, and to
arrive at new conclusions, advances our shared communities.
survive and flourish, we must learn to civilly discuss important
matters, including and especially religion. True political and economic
stability depends on openness, and falls quickly in the face of
censorship," it said.