When the Saturday international edition of The New York Times hit newsstands in Pakistan, readers were greeted with nearly two full blank pages instead of an article on the plight of anti-Islam bloggers in Bangladesh.
Times reporter Salman Masood drew attention to the omission on Twitter Saturday.
— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 2, 2016
The removed story detailed how secularist and atheist Bengali bloggers have been the victims of systematic murder and harassment at the hands of Islamic extremists. In a memo to The International New York Times front office hours before they went to print, the Pakistani printer said simply, “We are compelled to remove the article appearing on the front page…as it contains comments on the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad that can cause serious offense to our readers.”
In a blog post by public editor Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times clarified that they were not behind the decision to remove the article, and were very disappointed with their Pakistani partners. International editor Richard W. Stevenson called the censorship “an action that we certainly do not condone and that runs counter to our journalistic practices and values.”
For his part, Masood said he didn’t agree with the decision, but said it was understandable given that accusations of blasphemy can lead to violent reprisal in Pakistan. “They are really caught between a rock and a hard place,” he told Sullivan in a statement.
[Image via screengrab/Twitter]
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