Pakistan bans Facebook over "Everybody Draw Mohammed" page

Pakistan's government has ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook after protests against a page that encourages users to draw the Prophet Mohammed. The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page was set up in response to Comedy Central's decision last month to partially censor an episode of "South Park" depicting Mohammed in a bear costume:

The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order Wednesday requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.

In the southern city of Karachi, about 2,000 female students rallied demanding that Facebook be banned for tolerating the page. Several dozen male students held a rally nearby, with some holding signs urging Islamic holy war against those who blaspheme the prophet.

Pakistan's minister of religious affairs says the ban is just a temporary measure and has suggested a conference of Muslims countries to figure out how to prevent publication of images of the prophet. Of course, in this case, they're not banning publication of the image -- the page seems to have been created in the U.S. -- so much as preventing their citizens from having the ability to look at images published elsewhere. Seems like a losing battle. 


Turkey: Obama wanted us to make a deal with Iran

The Turkish- and Brazilian-brokered nuclear enrichment deal with Iran earlier this week was widely seen as a setback for the Obama administration's nonproliferation agenda, and indeed the White House didn't exactly shower the agreement with praise before continuing its push to slap new sanctions on Iran. 

But according to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the whole thing was done with Obama's encouragement. The National reports:

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, however, credited Mr Obama’s policy of engaging with Tehran for Ankara’s success in pursuing a diplomatic solution. “[Obama] paved the way for this process,” Mr Davutoglu said during a news conference in Istanbul. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been “encouraged” to pursue dialogue with Tehran by Mr Obama during a recent, high-level nuclear conference in New York.

While I'm sure Erdogan and Obama discussed Iran, it seems unlikely that anything that explicit was said. At a briefing on Monday -- before Davutoglu's comments -- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president had "not talked directly" with the leaders of Turkey or Brazil as the deal was being put together. 

Turkey and Brazil are reportedly infuriated by the new U.S.-backed agreement on sanctions and Davutoglu's suggestion that Obama was for the deal before he was against it isn't going to sit well in Washingtion.  

Hat tip: RFE/RL Transmission

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