Lift the ban on YouTube, cry artists

Published: February 6, 2013
Usman Riaz and Junaid Jamshed talk about the importance of the video-sharing website. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Usman Riaz and Junaid Jamshed talk about the importance of the video-sharing website. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Usman Riaz and Junaid Jamshed talk about the importance of the video-sharing website. PHOTO: PUBLICITY Usman Riaz and Junaid Jamshed talk about the importance of the video-sharing website. DESIGN: ANUSHAY FURQAN

The government’s ban on video-sharing website YouTube has been protested on Twitter and Facebook time and again by everyone from ordinary citizens to journalists and musicians in the past four months.

While most have tried to live a life without YouTube — either by using Vimeo and Dailymotion — or around it by using proxies, the Pakistani music industry has suffered largely in silence. One group of artists has realised the importance of such a video-sharing platform, and has come up with a unique way to protest the ban — YouTube Aloud, a collaborative effort between Omran Shafique (Momo) from Mauj, Hamza Jaafri from CoVEN and Pakistan’s child prodigy Usman Riaz.

“YouTube Aloud is a social media page where we [and the Facebook community] express our thoughts about how this ban is having a negative effect on society,” Riaz tells The Express Tribune.

“Everything that I have learnt and achieved is a direct result of having a close connection to the online realm,” says Riaz. “YouTube can be the reason I became a TED Fellow. I would have never had a chance to speak on the TED stage or perform with Preston Reed — the man whose videos I used to watch on YouTube when I first picked up the guitar — if I didn’t have access to YouTube.”

As a representative of the group, Riaz raises the question: “Does it make sense to burn down an entire library just because you don’t agree with the contents of one of its books?”

In December, Riaz had posted a message on his Facebook page, asking other artists such as Adil Omar, Natasha Humera Ejaz and Mole if they would be interested in holding a marathon concert in support of YouTube. He wrote: “It will do two things. (1) It can be the press conference that Hamza Jaafri had in mind to discuss the negative aspects of this ban on the artistic community (which I am sure we all whole-heartedly agree with) and (2) it can result in a lot of artists coming together to perform and show content.”

“Hear! Hear! We are all with you on this one!” posted Meesha Shafi, in response to Riaz’s post. Others reacted in the same spirit, but so far, the concert has not taken place.

Musicians Zohaib Kazi and Zoe Viccaji recently wrote an open letter requesting Interior Minister Rehman Malik to restore the site. A line from the letter reads: “YouTube is a medium that provides a platform for both. It is a library of today and an archive for tomorrow — an archive from which we will be missing”.

Even Junaid Jamshed, the former Vital Signs member turned entrepreneur, feels YouTube should be restored. According to Jamshed, YouTube is a source of research and information. “I think we have already made our point by banning it — now it should be restored immediately,” he says.

Musician Usman Riaz

“It is a free medium of information for people and plays a pivotal role in religious education because a large number of people go on YouTube to read the Quran and other religious texts,” explains Jamshed. “We are a Muslim nation and will not tolerate or watch anything blasphemous, even if it is present on YouTube. As a Muslim Ummah, we know what is right or wrong for us.”

However, not everyone agrees that the YouTube ban is impacting our music industry in a negative way. Senior musician Asad Ahmed, who has been in the music scene for three decades, says, “[YouTube] should be restored but I don’t think it is harming the music industry.”

“It’s funny that [people are] saying that,” he chuckles. “Around 50% of Coke Studio’s viewership is outside Pakistan and the real YouTube fans in Pakistan already have Spotflux or hotspot shield working for them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Feb 6, 2013 - 10:10PM

    PTA should remove the ban from youtube , coz many of stuudents got important lectures and much more research of New scientists , Our govt should do some Strict Actions to unblock such Causes.


  • Adil Warraich
    Feb 7, 2013 - 12:06AM

    “Does it make sense to burn down an entire library just because you don’t agree with the contents of one of its books?”
    first of all totaly disagree with this statement. An Ashiq-e-rasool will understand only why to burn that library.
    Second yes! youtube ban should be lifted now with blasphemous contect removed/blocked. Where is our hackers and IT etc they can’t simply develop a way to block some specific thing on youtube?


  • Feb 7, 2013 - 6:20AM

    Well since a bearded guy says unblock youtube – it should be unblocked within 7 days mark my words!


  • Richard
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:12PM

    What ever it may be said regarding youtube at the end of the day we are the losers deprived of all the important informations not only music.So PTA should remove the ban asap.


  • Testtube
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:53PM

    Please don’t unblock. Devil is blocked b


  • Fed up
    Feb 7, 2013 - 2:01PM

    @Adil Warraich:
    Well that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries! Burning books, libraries and universities!


  • Khan of Cape Town
    Feb 7, 2013 - 2:51PM

    Till a maverick called Mr. Ansar Abbasi has objections on it, YouTube ban will never be lifted. Mr. Abbasi will run this country, not politicians.


  • qadeer
    Feb 7, 2013 - 2:58PM

    Life was good before youtube ect


  • Ham Ayun
    Feb 7, 2013 - 4:24PM

    pakistan has the worst govt in asia.its not my pakistan to blame but the responsible people.


  • Omer Khan
    Feb 7, 2013 - 4:30PM

    Hey Mr. Jamshed, what about ban on women drivers?


  • Something Clever
    Feb 7, 2013 - 4:30PM

    and a lot of people believe it was better after.
    You know the ones. The ones that believe in actual parenting, self control and rationality.


  • Ayesha Bhaalay
    Feb 7, 2013 - 5:05PM

    he’s totally right. Google doesn’t care about the small fraction of Pakistani users. It won’t affect them financially because they generate most of their revenue on YT from western users.

    It is stupid to ban a whole site because one out of millions of theirs users uploaded an offensive video. Google even offered to block the video in Pakistan but our top dogs are too tech-illiterate to understand any of that.

    First stop killing each other in Pakistan. Muslims getting killed by Muslims. Bomb blasts everwehre. After that go out to protest such incidents.


  • Faqir Ipi
    Feb 7, 2013 - 8:01PM

    If there is a filthy book in a library then only book is removed from the library as it’s not appropriate to close down the whole library.

    “If there is any anti-Islamic content then it should be removed.”


  • Feb 7, 2013 - 8:44PM

    Youtube should be reopened ASAP


  • Nishant
    Feb 8, 2013 - 12:22AM

    buring books and library
    now that sounds familiar
    that is what the pakistani army did in east pakistan and tried to impose urdu

    besides the historical nalanda university was set on fire by a muslim invader, the library was said to burn for several days


  • UHS
    Feb 8, 2013 - 12:54PM

    Whats your point here?


  • AXE
    Feb 8, 2013 - 3:57PM

    @UHS: Trolls never have any point.


  • Feb 10, 2013 - 3:06AM

    Majority of the people were in favor of banning you tube to block the blasphemous film.
    Whether the circumstances / positions /reasons which caused the ban on You Tube has been changed ? If not, then removal of the ban will establish that the earlier decision of banning was wrong ?


  • Super Star
    Feb 13, 2013 - 7:38PM

    I have seen the blasphemous film on dailymotion too. So when is Pak going to ban the other websites?


  • Hamayun
    Feb 14, 2013 - 12:14AM

    Why we guys are dependent on someone else technology;why don’t we develop our own.The time we are wasting on this useless discussion should have been wasted on coming up with a solution to this dependence,but we all here including me are just talking like fools.
    “Does it make sense to burn down an entire library just because you don’t agree with the contents of one of its books?” Mr.Riaz and Mr.Junaid Jamshaid :Why do we “keep out of reach of children”-the drugs,electric wallets,hot iron etc.In the same way some of us are chlidren.Untill unless the video is removed,ban is not lifting.Thats clear. Recommend

  • Ammar
    Feb 28, 2013 - 11:30AM

    Considering the poor quality of educaion here, the internet is my only hope of quality knowledge. Ban it all and you create more uneducated idiots buring down the country


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