YouTube will be blocked in Egypt for one month following a court order regarding the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims.”
Reuters reports that a Cairo court ordered YouTube to be blocked for 30 days over the controversial film, which sparked massive protests in the Middle East last year. The ruling can still be appealed, and based on precedent, it may not be enforceable at all.
The 13-minute film was uploaded to YouTube in July of 2012, and was said to be a trailer for a full-length movie independently produced in the US. In the film, Islam’s prophet Muhammad is depicted very negatively – it’s already anathema for visual depictions of Muhammad to be produced, due to hadith prohibition against creating images of sentient living beings (somewhat comparable to the Judeo-Christian tradition of not practicing idol worship).
But “Innocence of Muslims” takes it one step further by portraying Muhammad as a childish, womanizing, and petty buffoon.
When unrest over the film broke out in September of 2012, YouTube announced that it would not remove “Innocence of Muslims” because it did not violate their community standards guidelines governing the United States. The company did block access to the film in countries where it was deemed illegal or offensive, a decision which was considered controversial. However, the decision to leave the film on YouTube proved controversial as well.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal, such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”
Though YouTube is blocked in Egypt, “Innocence of Muslims” remains on the video-sharing site, with a warning: “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially offensive or inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.”
A representative for Google, YouTube’s parent company, stated: “We have received nothing from the judge or government related to this matter.”
YouTube blocked in Egypt: What do you think? Can the block be enforced? Should it be? What do you think of “Innocence of Muslims?”