November 19, 2011
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has ordered mobile phone companies to begin blocking text messages containing any of 1,500 designated "obscene" English and Urdu words, of which "Jesus Christ" is included, ASSIST News Service reports. Many of the words to be blocked are swear words or sexually explicit terms, but the list also includes words like "headlights," "athlete's foot," "nonsense" and "tampon," raising questions about practicality in addition to questions about religious freedom. "The inclusion of the name of Jesus Christ within this list of offensive words is another example of the intense hatred that resonates within Pakistan toward Christians," said Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Authority. "It beggars belief that 'Jesus Christ' could be considered a word offensive to Muslims, as he is written about as a great prophet in the Quran." In a letter leaked to Pakistani media, the PTA said the order was legal under a 1996 law preventing people from using "false, fabricated, indecent or obscene" language in any form of telecommunications, and also stated that free speech could be restricted "in the interest of the glory of Islam."