A Turkish court has ordered authorities to block access to Facebook pages that ‘insult’ the Prophet Mohammed and warned the whole site will be banned if the company doesn’t comply.
The country’s state-run news agency confirmed that a court in Ankara issued the order yesterday, following a request by a prosecutor.
The decision comes just days after another court ruling banned access in Turkey to web pages featuring the controversial cover of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
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It is the latest move to crack down on material seen as offending religious sensibilities in the largely Muslim nation, where the government of President Tayyip Erdogan is viewed as pursuing an Islamist-leaning agenda.
Facebook have yet to comment on the ruling but earlier this month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would not censor content published in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
He added that the social network would ‘never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world.’
However, according to statistics released by Facebook, the company has removed 1,893 ‘pieces of content’ at the request of the Turkish government.
Earlier this month, Turkey’s president began to press for new legislation which would allow ministers to temporarily ban websites, such as Facebook, and force Twitter to block an anonymous whistleblower.
The proposed law would allow ministers to restrict access to websites deemed to threaten lives, public order or rights and freedoms.
The Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) would have to comply within four hours, and then apply for a court order for the ban to be extended beyond 24 hours.
Communications minister Lutfu Elvan this week defended the proposal, saying it was needed after Turkey’s top court in October annulled previous legislation giving greater powers to ban websites, and saying it would only be used in emergencies.
Last year Turkey came under international criticism for temporary bans on Facebook and Twitter as a corruption scandal unfolded.
Erdogan vowed to ‘eradicate’ Twitter after allegations of government corruption were published on the micro-blogging site.
Meanwhile Facebook was briefly banned in Pakistan along with Twitter after the sites refused to remove pictures pertaining to be the Prophet Muhammad.
Facebook did eventually bow to pressure and blocked the images in Pakistan.