After protests erupted across the Middle East and Afghanistan blocked video sharing website and social media network YouTube, the site took off “Innocence of Muslims”, a film that claims to take a satirical view of Muslims and Islam.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) officials confirmed that they had received information about the video and had received directions from the Ministry of Information Technology on Wednesday afternoon to block the video.
“We started blocking the video within 10 minutes of receiving instructions from the ministry [of information technology],” a senior official at the PTA, who did not wish to be named, told The Express Tribune.
Explaining the action further, he said that operators were proactively working to block the offending video “wherever it appears” on the Internet.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry condemned the airing of the video clip in the US, saying it maligned the ‘revered and pious personality of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’ on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11 attacks.
“Such abominable actions, synchronised with commemoration of atrocious events like 9/11, provoke hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths,” said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.
Hundreds of protesters had stormed the US embassy in Cairo on Wednesday to protest news that a 13 minute clip of the two hour film, by Californian filmmaker Sam Bacile, would be screened at a church in Florida along with being streamed live on their website.
On Wednesday, the US ambassador to Libya and three other US embassy staff members were killed when infuriated protesters attacked the US embassy in Benghazi.
The film, made in 2011, was partly available on YouTube with short 90 second-long trailers and an 11 minute clip from the film. YouTube removed the longer version and a message now greets viewers reading: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.”
The Afghan government on Wednesday banned YouTube from the country for the first time to prevent people from watching the anti-Islam film.
“Following instructions by the ministry of information and culture, the ministry of communication has ordered all service providers to block YouTube access,” communications ministry official Aimal Marjan told AFP.
He said the block had been ordered “until YouTube removes this abusive film”.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood called for nationwide protests Friday against the film.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, condemned the film which it described as “a racist crime and a failed attempt to provoke sectarian strife between the two elements of the nation: Muslims and Christians.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.