Turkey orders Facebook to block pages insulting the Prophet Mohamed

The court threatened to block the social media website entirely

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The Independent Online

A court has threatened to cut off Facebook across Turkey if the US tech giant does not block a number of pages which it believes insult the Prophet Mohamed.

The ruling passed on Sunday was followed by a request by a prosecutor, state broadcaster TRT reported.

By Monday, Facebook had blocked one offending page in response to a valid legal request from Turkish authorities, a source told Reuters.

The court order is the latest move to crack down on material seen as offending religious sensibilities in the secular but majority Muslim nation.

Earlier this month, prosecutors launched an inquiry after a newspaper reprinted parts of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in the wake of an attack by extremist Islamic militants on its offices in Paris.

The Kouachi brothers killed 12 people at the satirical French magazine, with witnesses reporting that the pair said they were avenging the Prophet Mohamed, after Charlie Hebdo published a series of controversial cartoons of the religious figure.

But attempts to curb social media use are not new in Turkey. Last year, the government blocked access to Twitter after users tweeted the Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu with links to a corruption scandal, and implemented a two-month ban against YouTube on similar grounds, The Verge reported.

And in December, police arrested more than two dozen journalists and media executives in a move that the European Union condemned as an attack on the free press.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment to The Verge on the court order.

Additional reporting by Reuters