Facebook in Turkey ordered to block material insulting Prophet Muhammad

The order was given in the wake of the Paris shootings

A Turkish court has reportedly ordered Facebook to block access to pages that share material insulting the Prophet Muhammad, threatening to block access to the site in the whole country if it does not comply.

The order to start censoring insulting material was given by the Golbasi Duty Magistrate Court on Sunday, reported the Anadolu Agency, the Turkish press agency. Golbasi is 20 km (12.5 miles) south of the capital city of Ankara. The court issued the order on request of a prosecutor who had investigated social media pages.

The court's decision was made in the wake of the shootings at the offices of the satirical news weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The publication is known for publishing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on a regular basis; this was apparently the motive for the Jan. 7 attack on the publication, in which 12 people were killed.

The court's verdict was sent to the Turkish Access Provider Association and the Presidency of Telecommunications and Communication, the country's telecom authority, according to the report.

Sunday's decision follows a Jan 14. ruling by a court in the country's southeastern Diyarbakir province ordering a block on Web pages that show Charlie Hebdo's cover after the shootings. The cover design published in the first issue after the shootings displayed a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad holding a "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) sign beneath the text "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven). The "Je suis Charlie" slogan was popularized by supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of the press after the shootings and has been frequently used on social media to show support for the magazine.

Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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