Bangladesh blocks Facebook

Dhaka, May 30 (IANS) The Bangladesh government has ‘temporarily’ blocked access to popular social networking website Facebook, after a man was arrested for uploading satirical images of many politicians, including the prime minister.

The website was blocked Saturday, after the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Mahbub Alam Rodin, 30, a resident of Wari area here in the capital on charges of uploading satiric images of some political leaders on Facebook.

Rodin’s Facebook activity over the last one year was ‘offensive’ and he said he uploaded obscene images as his ‘passtime’, Commander Mohammad Sohail, director of RAB’s legal and media wing, was quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

RAB asked authorities to block all existing seven Facebook accounts of Rodin, which he had opened with fake email addresses, he said.

Rodin, an unemployed man, used several pseudonyms like ‘Brigadier Mahadi’, ‘Sepahi Mahadi’, ‘Imam Hossain’, ‘Rodin Al’, ‘Mohammad Al Mahadi’ and ‘Junaida Khandaker Zihan’, Sohail said.

Meanwhile, officials of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said a major reason for blocking access to the website was the posting of some anti-Islamic content and some posted links to pornographic materials, which were not ‘tolerable’.

This action by the government, however, led to late-night protests by Dhaka University students, who took to the streets. Technology experts also criticised the government for the move. A few people said the government should have blocked individual profiles rather than the entire website.

Three Islamic political parties – Islami Oikya Jote, Islami Andolan and Khelafat Andolan – Friday demanded an immediate ban on Facebook for a recent campaign inviting people to draw images of the prophet. Pakistan has also banned Facebook for the same reasons.

In March 2009, the Bangladesh government blocked video sharing website YouTube for posting a recorded conversation between the prime minister and army officers.