On May 31st a High Court judge, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the government to take action in respect to alleged blasphemy on Facebook. On June 11th in consequence of this order, the Deputy Attorney General authorised and initiated the first stage of investigation and prosecution of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. The Deputy Attorney General on June 11th lodged with police a "First Information Report (FIR)" against "the owner of Facebook".
An FIR is the document that Police register when a case is lodged against anyone. This document then becomes the prime source of evidence and on the basis the legal case will move.
The FIR – number 614/2010 - was lodged at Civil Lines Police Station Lahore under section "295-C" of the Pakistan Penal Code, which reads "Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."
The actual FIR details the charge "in respect of an offense under Section 295-C Pakistan Penal Code and punishment under this offense is death penalty or rigorous life imprisonment"
The next hearing is scheduled for 12th July 2010.
This order by the High Court to the government essentially means that a prima facie case has already been made against Facebook's founder, clearing the way for a charge and prosecution to follow. It is highly likely that this prosecution will be initiated in time for the 12th July hearing. At that point arrest papers may be issued and Zuckerberg will become a wanted felon.
These actions have arisen from a writ petition filed in the Lahore High Court on 19th May (W.P. NO.11559/2010 ----Titled Mohammad Azhar Siddique vs Government of Pakistan. In this Writ the Petitioner Azhar Siddique, a lawyer, blamed the government of Pakistan for failing to register an FIR against Facebook for not removing the blasphemous page even after thousands of complaints.
The High Court on May 31st temporarily lifted the national ban on Facebook but ordered the Deputy Attorney General to take further legal action. The FIR against Zuckerberg appears to be the path chosen to comply with the court order.
The Pakistan action is not a precedent. Earlier this year three Google executives were convicted because of violation of Italian law relating to material posted on YouTube.
Link to policy document: https://boxcrack.net/boxcrack/assets/docs/Pakistan.pdf
This is getting ridiculous. The government and its ever present cronies are yet again trying to curb the freedoms associated with the usage of internet in Pakistan. There is little doubt that such an instrument of policy will be misused by or Mr. 50% president and his lackey thugs. If iplemented, this will have far reaching consequences for the country as a whole.
As an internet user of Pakistan whose livelihood may or may not depend on the provision of unrestricted internet access in Pakistan, what is your opinion or comment on this?