Pakistan temporarily blocks social media platforms amid anti-France protests by proscribed outfit TLP

This comes a day after the government banned radical Islamist party, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, whose supporters clashed with law enforcement agencies

Agence France-Presse April 16, 2021 14:41:39 IST
Pakistan temporarily blocks social media platforms amid anti-France protests by proscribed outfit TLP

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a radical Islamist political party, chant slogans during a protest against the arrest of their party leader, Saad Rizvi, in Lahore on Thursday. AP

Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Friday ordered hours-long shut down of social media and instant messaging platforms, after days of violent anti-France protests.

In a notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the Interior Ministry requested a "complete blocking" of Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube and Telegram until 3pm (1100 GMT).

It gave no reason for the ban, but it comes a day after French nationals and companies in Pakistan were advised by their embassy to temporarily leave in the wake of the rallies led by an extremist party that paralysed large parts of the country and left two police officers dead.

Political parties frequently use social media platforms to rally supporters.

Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters took to the streets after their leader was detained Tuesday following his calls for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Anti-French sentiment has been festering for months in Pakistan since President Emmanuel Macron lent his support to a satirical magazine's right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed - deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has struggled to bring Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan to heel over the years, but this week announced an outright ban against the group, effectively labelling it a terrorist outfit.

Extra security personnel have been deployed to the French embassy - inside a guarded diplomatic enclave closed to the public - and additional shipping containers placed as fortifications around its outer wall.

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