Bangladesh lifts ban on Facebook

Bangladesh had blocked Facbook over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Dhaka: A week after it blocked Facebook for hosting a page with blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed and "obnoxious" images of its leaders, Bangladesh on Sunday lifted a ban on the popular social networking website.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered the country`s international Internet gateway providers to unblock the site after the US based company agreed to remove the obnoxious images and content.

"We opened Facebook to the users at 11:40pm following a BTRC directive," Masud Kabir, managing director of Mango Telecom Services, one of the Internet gateways handlers, said.

Bangladesh imposed a ban on Facebook on May 29 after cartoons of Prophet Mohammed posted on the site hurt the religious sentiments of the country`s Muslim population.

Thousands of people belonging to Muslim community protested over the cartoons which they branded as "anti-Islamic propaganda", and demanded the site be banned.

Nearly 90 percent of Bangladesh`s 144 million people are Muslims who regard depictions of Islam`s prophet as blasphemous.

The BTRC also said that some links in Facebook contained "obnoxious" images of the country`s leaders including the
Prime Minister and that the site would be reopened after Bangladesh had permanently blocked the offending pages.

"We are satisfied with the removal of offensive items by Facebook team. And now it`s again open for all," BTRC chairman Zia Ahmed was quoted as saying by `The Daily Star` adding that Bangladesh would "strongly monitor the postings on the site".

The government`s move to lift the ban on Facebook came after Pakistan lifted a similar ban on the site last week following a court order.

Bangladesh has nearly one million Facebook account holders -- a sixth of all Internet users, according to the BTRC.