Egypt bans YouTube over Innocence of Muslims video
Egypt’s administrative court on Saturday ordered the authorities to block access to YouTube and other websites that have not removed the anti-Islamic trailer. The 14-minute clip made in the US was posted to YouTube in July 2012.
After having been translated into Arabic and partly broadcasted in Egypt last September, this low-budget film sparked a wave of outrage worldwide and anti-American protests in the Middle East that killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.
The lawsuit against YouTube was filed by Egyptian attorney Hamed Salem amid accusations of the video-sharing service being a “threat to social peace.” Salem demanded YouTube and social media sites linking to the “insulting” video to be banned until all the anti-Islamic content is removed from them.
Egyptian protest movements have condemned the ban, calling YouTube a “vital resource for disseminating information about Human Rights abuses by the security forces,” Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew told RT on Saturday.
Wael Eskandar, an Egyptian journalist and blogger, told RT the YouTube verdict is not an isolated event, as Egypt’s new rulers are increasingly targeting websites they view as a threat to their rule.
“One other thing we’ve seen as well, admins on Facebook pages that are critical of the Muslim Brotherhood are being targeted. We’ve seen one death in clashes last week – an admin of a Facebook page called ‘the Muslim Brotherhood are liars.’
We’re seeing more of these kind of clampdowns, either in the physical realm, and now they’re moving on to doing it technically, through YouTube or various other sites, and we can expect more of that.”
The Google-owned service had decided to temporarily block access to The Innocence of Muslims in specific countries, including Egypt and Libya. However, Google refused to remove the video, saying it didn’t violate YouTube’s community guidelines. YouTube still does not consider the film as hate speech towards Muslims, despite the Obama administration’s request to “reconsider” its status.
Recently, an Egyptian court upheld its decision that sentenced seven alleged makers of the film with death, and American pastor Terry Jones with jail term in absentia. Other countries such as Pakistan have taken legal action to suspend a list of Google services until the anti-Islamic video is removed.
Following the violent reaction to the film, to which the Benghazi attack that killed US ambassador in Libya was also initially attributed, a 55-year old US resident identified as a key filmmaker was arrested and sentenced to jail by an American court.
Egypt-born Coptic Christian Mark Bassely Youssef was sentenced to a year in prison and four years of supervised release after pleading guilty to four of the eight charges against him. A US-based Christian charity is said to have funded The Innocence of Muslims, which also portrayed the persecution of Copts in Egypt.