Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA.ir), Web developers in Pakistan have launched a version of Facebook for the Muslim world after the social networking site was blocked for showing “blasphemous” images of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
Six young IT experts in the city of Lahore have set up MillatFacebook – using the Urdu word for nation – which they hope will become a hub for Muslims around the world.
Omar Zaheer Meer, one of the founders, said the site was launched on Wednesday and had already attracted 8,000 users.
The aim, he said, was to register their disapproval of the images of the Muslim prophet and to offer an alternative to a site that has also been criticised for its lax and confusing privacy controls.
"We are saying that we are technologically independent and that you can't make money from us and then not respect our views," he said.
Thousands of people in Pakistan have demonstrated against the US-based social networking site for hosting a contest calling for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The country's courts ordered internet service providers to block the social networking site last week, along with others that featured sacrilegious content. YouTube, Wikipedia and hundreds of other pages have all been subject to temporary bans.
Muslims argue that any representation of the Prophet Mohammed is blasphemous.
The Facebook ban has led Pakistanis to find alternative ways of keeping in touch with friends.
MillatFacebook's designers hope the site will attract people of all faith, and admit it shares some of the same features as its better-known template. In fact, from the blue navigation panel to the map of the world, the login page bears a remarkable similarity to Facebook.
"Millatfacebook is Pakistan's very own, first social networking site. A site for Muslims by Muslims where sweet people of other religions are also welcome," the website tells people interested in signing up.
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