Why is Wikipedia Blocked in Pakistan?
As I started my day on the 4th of February 2023, nothing seemed out of place. As I proceeded with my work, I kept getting errors on reaching Wikipedia.
After inquiring friends and colleagues about if Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan, I found some in a state of perplex — like me, while for others, it was new information.
As a content writer, much of my work depends on research and linking to Wikipedia. I was in a state of confusion about why is Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan. As if soaring gold rates and gold prices combined with petrol prices weren’t enough for us.
On a little dive into the internet, thank heavens, for we still have the internet to do some research, I came across a revelation. PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) has Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan due to ‘sacrilegious content.’
As it appears, PTA issued a warning to Wikipedia at the beginning of February, stating the nature of the content as blasphemous and hurting the religious sentiment of Muslims worldwide.
The platform has uploaded an official notice on its Twitter account. Since the platform hasn’t come back with an answer or removed the content, PTA blocked the platform on the 4th of February.
What is Sacrilegious Content?
Sacrilegious broadly means irreligious, profane, or blasphemous. Anything that ‘harms a certain religious group’s sanctity, and the religious sentiment’ is termed sacrilegious.
Freedom of Speech
It is a sad state of affairs in today’s world; burning holy books and disrespecting certain noble figures in religion is termed freedom of speech. Doesn’t humanity teach us not to disrespect or hurt others?
If we look at the flip side of the situation, it is downright unkind and insulting. Every religion and country asserts the importance of respect for others.
Freedom of speech has been manipulated over the years into blasphemous slurs and acts. Meanwhile, we all know it is hatred misquoted as ‘freedom of speech.’
It was aptly summed up in an interview by a Dutch ex-politician, Arnoud van Doorn, in a conversation with the editorial, Anadolu News Agency.
Food for thought: Isn’t it humane to hold your tongue when you believe it will hurt someone’s sentiment?
Ban on Wikipedia Over the Years
Pakistan is not the first country to ban Wikipedia over objectionable or blasphemous content. After Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan, on research I learned other countries like Russia, China, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Myanmar have also banned the platform.
In some instances, the ban remained for a couple of years, while some issues were resolved instantly.
Wikipedia Blocked in Pakistan – What to Expect
We have seen the government blocking other digital platforms like YouTube and TikTok for an impactful long time. The ban on YouTube lasted for years, affecting those gravely whose earnings depended solely on the platform.
One wonders if this was a calculated step by authorities. Could they have taken appropriate steps that resulted in a better solution than banning the platform altogether? PTA has also confirmed over the news of Wikipedia blocked in Pakistan, if the objectionable content in removed, the ban will be removed instantly.
All we know is, there is a grim possibility that the ban will last for a long time. And it would add to the suffering of Pakistanis, who have no alternate of Wikipedia and need it for their work or learning purposes.
Wikipedia is indeed a repository of knowledge. We all use it many times a day to double-check facts and information. While being such an important platform, the responsibility doubles as to what kind of content is published on the platform.
The continuous ban on the platform coming from various nationalities, ad recently wikipedia blocked in Pakistan, implies the seriousness of the issue. Wikipedia should look into protocols for checking the content before publishing.
If such preventive measures are taken, no country will ban such an important platform as Wikipedia.