Pakistan Censors NY Times News Article

A Pakistani man who secretly converted to Christianity has fled the country and is now hiding in Afghanistan. Pakistanis won’t be reading his story, however, unless they access the online edition of The New York Times.

Express Tribune censors The New York Times

Mashable spoke with someone from The New York Times, who said the Express Tribune is the one that censored their content. The Express Tribune is The Times’ partner in Pakistan and publishes the International New York Times in Pakistan. The spokesperson said they “obviously disapprove” of their print partner’s decision to censor their paper. She emphasized that it was an independent decision made by their print partner in Pakistan.

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The story is about a man only referred to as Josef. He’s on the run from his own family members, who are seeking him with the intent to kill him for converting from Islam to Christianity. The man’s brother-in-law Ibrahim offered a New York Times reporter $20,000 to reveal his hiding place. Ibrahim said after he kills Josef, he will kill his three-year-old son as well.

Josef’s story of his conversion spans several countries, as he traveled from Turkey to Italy to Greece, to Germany, and other countries. He said he saw too many things that made him discard his Islamic beliefs. Even in Afghanistan where he is hiding, Christians are persecuted and beaten. Some are kicked out of the country and shipped off to India if they refuse to recant their beliefs.

Censorship common in Pakistan

Tensions between Christians and Muslims and even among various Muslim groups often run high. As a result, it’s very common for stories about religion to be censored in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. In addition, Pakistan’s government also closely examines stories about security and intelligence issues.

Recently Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) changed a previous decision to censor some tweets in Pakistan. The micro-blogging company was under fire from a free speech advocacy group that was unhappy with Twitter’s compliance with a request from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

Pakistan’s Geo TV has also been at the center of controversy, as the PTA decided to pull the network’s broadcasting license because of its critical reports of the nation’s top spy agency.