Anti-Islam film: Desperate govt moves to quell simmering protests

Published: September 18, 2012
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A protester retaliates against the police during a rally in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

A protester retaliates against the police during a rally in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

While the furore surrounding an anti-Islam amateur film, “Innocence of Muslims”, persisted on Monday, the movie’s trailer continued to mushroom on the internet – pushing the government of Pakistan to take a sweeping step to block a popular video-sharing website, YouTube, in its entirety across the country.

In addition, Interior Minister Rehman Malik weighed in with another threat to Google Inc, the company that owns YouTube: remove the anti-Islam material, or visas of Google officials would be cancelled. He also said he will approach Interpol for the arrest of those involved in the film.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf issued directives to the information technology ministry to immediately block YouTube across Pakistan.

The directives come as the website has been unable to stop the film from continuously being reposted on the site through different accounts and links. Nevertheless, Premier Ashraf said sacrilegious material would not be tolerated and YouTube would remain suspended till it removed all links to the film.

YouTube is the main, but by no means the only, website that can host the video on the Internet.

Following Premier Ashraf’s directives, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) spokesperson Malahat Rabi confirmed that YouTube was blocked with immediate effect. Rabi confirmed that the site would be banned until it removed all links to the controversial film.

Earlier, the interior, religious, and information technology ministries had recommended a complete ban on YouTube in the country. The ministries also recommended that the summary by an inter-ministerial committee on the matter should be forwarded to the prime minister.

SC directives

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court had directed the PTA to block 934 links to the movie on YouTube and the Internet. It also ordered the PTA to prevent similar material from being displayed on such websites in the future.

“By Monday evening, 934 links to the film have been blocked on YouTube and the Internet by the PTA, out of which over 650 uniform resource locators (URLs) have been banned on YouTube. However, the surge in uploading the film is massive, causing unrest in the country,” said a PTA official statement. The authority also said almost 100 new links of the film were proliferated on YouTube every day.

Akram Sheikh and Taufiq Asif, legal attorneys for Jamaat-e-Islami, had filed an application in the apex court to draw its attention towards the blasphemous content of the controversial film. They said the links to the film, which had hurt the feelings of Muslims in the country and around the world, was still available on YouTube.

Following the arguments put forth, the court directed the PTA to take down all sacrilegious material that disrespected Islam or Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in any way and directed the PTA to submit a report on its progress.

Google snubs White House

Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.

The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where US embassies have been stormed by protestors. On Tuesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in a fiery siege on the embassy in Benghazi.

Google said it was further restricting the clip to comply with local law rather than as a response to political pressure.

“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,” the company said. “This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”

White House officials had asked Google earlier on Friday to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube’s terms of service.

Google initially said on Wednesday that the video was within its guidelines.

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (17)

  • Faraz
    Sep 18, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Google hasn’t mentioned Pakistan in the list of Muslim countries which have been deeply disturbed/offended by this video, heck, they also mentioned India. We need to step-up our protests! Why our protests are not being acknowledged (sarcasm). Rehman Malik says he will deny google officials visas to Pakistan, wow! that will really be a huge set-back for google!! (sarcasm!)

    Recommend

  • kifayath ulla
    Sep 18, 2012 - 7:57AM

    I would request Govt of US to imediatly BAN such materials which ever hurts sentiments of any religion . espicially Islamic Religion .Recommend

  • Nasir Ali
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:05AM

    Freedom of speech and freedom to protest.

    Recommend

  • Nav
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:40AM

    Google’s revenues are greater than our total exports. They don’t really give two hoots about our interior minister.
    And just last month , there was news that Google could invest here.
    Great work GoP!!!

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:42AM

    He also said he will approach Interpol
    for the arrest of those involved in
    the film.

    Classic Malik.

    Recommend

  • Not me
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:44AM

    The video is shameful and sick.and disgracefulRecommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Not a word against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or Islam shall be borne with, that is what every Muslim believes firmly. Google high-ups do know this too, they are themselves responsible for the situation going on around the world, unless they remove the content.

    Recommend

  • Dhanak
    Sep 18, 2012 - 8:49AM

    Why muslims killing muslims because of this stupid videos. There are reports that 10 muslims have been killed because of protests all over the world. If you want to protest go related embassies and protest. Do not just kill your own people or damage their properties. Recommend

  • sgrr
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:10AM

    I am of the view that the PTA did not have the capability to stop the site as the China is unable to block sites despite its edge in technology. All Muslims should just ignore and restrain themselves from using youtube.

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  • bee
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:41AM

    THIS is why the govt should not have been allowed to mess with the internet and block whatever they want when they want! People will say what they want to say, make videos they want to make – My question is – is our faith SO weak that we are threatened by what people say and do?

    We can’t control people – but we CAN control ourselves. By giving silly things like this attention, we become more intolerant and end up giving people the power to inflame and irritate us.

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  • The real Islam
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:10AM

    What I have never been able to understand is why are people need to act like monkeys and savages when protesting? It does not matter if they are lawyers in black coats and ties or mullahs in shalwaar kameez their actions of destroying property is shameful and a disgrace. There is nothing wron in protesting but if damage is caused the individuals that set up the demo must PAY for it

    Recommend

  • ahmer
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:13AM

    It is stupidity on the muslims part wwith thier holier then thou attitude. I hope the world starts acting in the same way against muslim countries each time the muslims threaten to kill them or say anything against shias, ahmedis, jews christians, hindus. Only then will this nonsence stop.

    Best thing in such circumstance is what the quran says to simply ignore it and dont listen to it. How many people are you going to stop….these idiots say religion of peace, but it is thier attitude that has made it into a religion of terror.

    Recommend

  • Enlightened
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:30AM

    @Faraz:
    Google has huge financial stakes in India than Pakistan, so my dear no large business house or country including US dares to be on the wrong side of ‘Incredible India’.

    Recommend

  • Sep 18, 2012 - 2:04PM

    They are always preparing sacrilegious material against Muslims
    They are presenting all things painful to Muslims.
    they are burning holy book in the cross road and challenge Muslims.
    They are providing safety to the director ,producer and actors of the intolerable film.
    Friendship with them impossible.

    In the name of freedom of speech,they are doing all thing objectionable.
    Notwithstanding the fact that constitution is being explained wrongly.

    I dismiss the American claim that it can not stop the display of an
    anti-Islamic movie which has recently been produced in the United States
    as an outdated promise and is only applies to few people.

    not all,constitution say,not all,you have included all convicted and professional
    criminal in the domain.,
    As for as few people are concerned,Muslims of the world understand that it is planned conspiracy by few people with the assistance of Israel so unacceptable.permission can not be granted any one to interfere in the religion of Islam with dirty mind.

    Recommend

  • Bill Maher
    Sep 18, 2012 - 2:06PM

    @kifayath ulla:
    Dear:

    I was with you up to the point:
    “I would request Govt of US to imediatly BAN such materials which ever hurts sentiments of any religion.”

    But, you lost me with:
    “espicially Islamic Religion .”

    Recommend

  • Stephen Real
    Sep 18, 2012 - 5:50PM

    @Sultan Ahmed:
    I have to call the fatwa on this moral malarchy. The Holy Prophet would not care about a Youtube video that nobody watched when 20,000 Syrians have been killed at the hands of Assad. Where is the moral outrage for the murdered Syrians created in the image of God?
    These protesters project onto our US government that it is like any other Arab government in the Arab world where free speech is controlled by the government. This contradicts our founding principles of freedom of conscience and expression.
    Why is Egypt behind China? When 50 years ago it was leaving China in the economic dust? The Arabs did it to themselves. They, for whatever psychological reasons, relied on Islam to solve their economic and societal problems. These protests are stoked up by religous zealots whom never studied or even read the Holy Qu’ran and have no idea on how to improve Arab society and economic wealth of the Arab peoples.

    Recommend

  • MOSSAD
    Sep 23, 2012 - 2:18AM

    @Faraz:
    The RAW/CIA/MOSSAD Nexus convinced Google to keep airing the video to get Pakistan to destroy itself.

    Recommend

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