The Bangladeshi government has moved to block six social apps – Facebook, Messenger, Line, WhatsApp, Viber, and Tango – citing security reasons stemming from its decision to award the death penalty to two opposition leaders.
The decision came after the country’s Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling to execute the pair for crimes committed during the 1971 war, reports DW.
This is not the first time that social networking sites have been blocked in the country. In 2010, Bangladesh invoked a ‘temporary ban’ on Facebook after satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were uploaded and shared.
At the time, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said the images had “hurt religious sentiments for the majority Muslim population.” Thousands of demonstrators had also taken to the streets demanding a ban.
However, this time around, the circumstances are somewhat different. The country remains divided on the decision to award the death penalty as well as the effectiveness of the ban.
Religious fundamentalism is also creeping into the mainstream – the past few months have seen attacks on secular bloggers and publishers – with the self styled ‘Islamic State’ (sometimes referred to as ISIS) claiming responsibility.
Despite the web censorship, people are still accessing the blocked sites. A number of Twitter feeds and Facebook posts are showing netizens how to circumvent the ban by using proxy/VPN servers.
NEO Web Desk