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Maharashtra seeks Facebook ban

New Delhi, May 25: The Maharashtra government has asked the Centre about the possibility of blocking social networking site Facebook following such a demand from Muslim and Christian organisations.

Muslim and Christian leaders have themselves jointly written to the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and the Union home ministry demanding immediate action against Facebook for displaying “blasphemous” pages.

The Pakistan government, following a Lahore High Court order, has blocked Facebook for inviting its members to post caricatures deemed blasphemous.

Christian groups such as the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) are upset over various Facebook pages on Jesus Christ and Christianity.

The Maharashtra additional chief secretary (home), Chandra Iyengar, has written to Union home secretary G.K. Pillai requesting a ban on Facebook, if possible. A copy of the letter has been sent to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, a division of the information and technology ministry.

“We want the government to block Facebook for its irresponsible action. If the government does not act promptly, we will be left with no option but to take to the streets,’’ said Sohail Rokadia of the Raza Academy.

The academy, a prominent Mumbai-based Sunni organisation, has taken the matter up jointly with the CSF.

“The CSF believes that blasphemous pages on any religion should be taken off the website. Several pages on Facebook are worse than the pages that are being objected to by Muslims across the world,” said John Dias of the CSF.

“We call upon Facebook to tender an unconditional apology for hurting the religious sentiments of millions of followers of different faiths. Such blasphemous material on the Internet has dangerous law-and-order consequences, particularly in the East. It disturbs peace and harmony in an already communally sensitive situation.”

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