Lahore: A Pakistani court has reportedly ordered a ban on nine leading websites, including Google and Hotmail, for allegedly posting blasphemous material though officials today said they had not received any instruction to block the sites.

Media reports said the Bahawalpur bench of the Lahore High Court yesterday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to immediately block nine websites, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, YouTube, Bing and Amazon, for publishing and promoting sacrilegious and blasphemous material.

Justice Mazher Iqbal Sidhu issued the order while hearing a petition filed by a man named Muhammad Sidiq who claimed these websites were publishing sacrilegious material.

The judge also ordered the PTA chairman to appear in court on June 28 with relevant materials.

Sidiq, in his petition, sought a ban on the websites for publishing blasphemous materials and twisting facts about the Quran.

Aslam Dhakkar, head of a local bar association, was quoted as saying that the court had given a historic decision.

He said the legal fraternity in Bahawalpur would observe a strike today to protest the publication of blasphemous material by the websites.

However, officials of the PTA said that they had received no instructions to block the websites.

They said they had only seen media reports about the court’s order.

Wahaj-us-Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan, said his organisation had not received any directions from the PTA to block websites.

Pakistani authorities had blocked popular social networking website Facebook in May over the holding of a competition on blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

The access to the website was later restored on the orders of the court.(NDTV)

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