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Pakistan bans use of the word “Jesus” in text messages

22 November, 2011 0 Comments

By Mauro Pianta | Vatican Insider | | November 22, 2011.

ACCORDING to the head of telecommunications, the word “Jesus” needs to be added to the list of 1600 forbidden words, which have been banned because they are considered obscene.

No room for Jesus on Pakistani cell phones. According to Vatican news agency Fides, the latest wild diktat has come from the Head of Telecommunications: It is forbidden to write the name of “Jesus Christ” in text messages. Mobile phone companies have been ordered to block text messages that contain certain words considered vulgar, obscene or harmful in terms of meaning and modesty. “Jesus Christ” and “Satan” are among the 1600 banned words (many are of a sexual nature). Companies have seven days to implement the provision, but Christian Churches and organisations for human rights in Pakistan have declared war.

Fr. John Shakir Nadeem, Secretary of the Episcopal Conference’s “Commission for Social Communications”, announced to Fides news agency that: “the Catholic Church in Pakistan will do all it can to put pressure on the government to eliminate Christ’s name from the list of banned words. We understand the desire to protect the minds of young people by creating a list of obscene words. But why should Christ’s name be included? What makes it obscene? Banning it would be a violation of our right to evangelise and it hurts the feeling of Christians. If the ban is confirmed, it will constitute a dark moment in the country’s history; a further act of discrimination against Christians and a clear violation of the Pakistani Constitution. We hope the government will make the opportune amendments.”

A number of human rights and citizens’ freedom organisations, such as “Bytes for All” have stated that they will contest the order in court. They say “it violates the right to free speech and freedom of expression.” And not only. The ban would be “an intrusion of citizens’ privacy.” Furthermore, according to some associations, not only is the order “oppressive”, but it has “features of unconstitutionality.”

The head of telecommunications stated that the freedom of Pakistani people is “subject to limitations stipulated by the law, in the interest of the glory of Islam.” A “glory” that is orwellianly correct.

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