Facebook censorship lifts Bangladesh ban

Facebook yesterday bowed to political pressure, removing anti-government images in order to get itself unbanned in Bangladesh.

The site's reinstatement comes not, as many sites have reported, after Facebook's agreement to remove offensive images of the prophet Mohammed, but in response to pressure from the country's authorities over anti-government cartoons.

The ban on the social networking site in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh came after Islamic opinion worldwide was inflamed by a Facebook page declaring May 20th "Draw Mohammed Day" and inviting users to upload caricatures of the Muslim prophet to the site.

The page led to a ban on Facebook in Pakistan on the 19th of May. It wasn't until the 29th of May that Bangladesh followed suit - and then only after police had arrested a man accused of uploading satirical cartoons deemed "obnoxious" by the country's authorities.

Unemployed IT expert Mahbub Alam Rodin, 30, posted caricatures of figures including the country's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina and the country's first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

According to independent Bangladeshi news site The New Nation, Rodin (pictured) was arrested at 12.30am on May 29th in a raid by the Bangladeshi police's Rapid Action Battalion.

Rodin has been charged with "spreading malice and insulting the country's leaders".

Fears have been expressed for Rodin's safety, with one blogger commenting: "I just hope that Mahbub Rodin isn't being tortured to death."

Rodin's arrest comes in the wake of a media crackdown in Bangladesh that has seen one national newspaper closed and its editor arrested.