Egypt court orders YouTube block over 'anti-Islam' film

Egypt court orders YouTube block over 'anti-Islam' film

Summary: An Egyptian court has ordered the suspension of YouTube over the controversial Innocence of Muslims trailer.

TOPICS: Google, Government, Legal
youtube muhammad movie trailer court order ban suspension

A court based in Cairo, Egypt, has ordered a month-long ban on video streaming service Google for hosting "anti-Islam" film Innocence of Muslims.

The Associated Press reports that Judge Hassouna Tawfiq called the video "offensive to Islam," as well as the Prophet Muhammad while ordering the suspension.

The trailer, a 14-minute video, portrays Muhammad as stupid, a fraud and a sexual deviant who approves of sexual child abuse. Any portrayal of Muhammad is considered blasphemous for many Muslims, and it is no wonder the trailer enraged the devout -- however, that does not necessarily mean that there is any legal reason to remove the footage from YouTube.

Owned by parent company Google, YouTube's 30-day suspension can be appealed, and may not be fully enforced. A Google Spokesperson told the AP that the firm was yet to receive any formal notification of the court's decision.

The court's ruling may not be part of a wider crackdown on free expression, and arguably may simply come down to one over-zealous judge. Amr Gharbeia, civil liberties director at the Egyptian Institute for Personal Rights, told The Guardian:

"People will find ways around the ban. The courts are not aware of how the internet works. They are using the same measures that they would use against newspapers and broadcasters. It's very possible that the judge is acting on his own will and conviction and really wants to protect the people of Egypt from something evil."

Last September, the video sparked protests and unrest in a number of countries across the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt and Libya. Conservative Muslim groups stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was burned down, and the U.S. ambassador to Libya and members of staff were killed.

As a result, YouTube temporarily blocked access to the video in Egypt and Libya, but it was still accessible in other countries. According to state media MENA, by refusing to take down the video, YouTube had "insisted on broadcasting the film insulting Islam and the Prophet, disrespecting the beliefs of millions of Egyptians and disregarding the anger of all Muslims."

In response, Google said:

"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."

Topics: Google, Government, Legal

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • If they could censor God from ..

    testifying against them using the truth, I think they would. They are ashamed that this film used offensive language, when in actuality it highlighted that Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl and called him a pedophile. How dare they take offense when the premise was drawn from their own Qur'an and expect people not to repeat it. Of course, I think this video is being scapegoated for hateful people, because people are the ones making the choice to be offended and attacking the messenger.
    • What's the chaff to the wheat?

      While I haven't seen the video, I have seen propaganda against my own faith for most of my life and have always been amazed at the distortions and exaggerations contained therein; I suspect that anti-Islamic propaganda conforms to many of the same low standards; indeed, it appears that many of the same charges that have routinely appeared in anti-Mormon propaganda for the past century and a half are now appearing in anti-Islamic propaganda. And both sorts of propaganda appear to be much more effective in inspiring hostility and persecution by outsiders (and that appears to me to be their true purpose) than they are in encouraging believers to renounce their supposedly false traditions; certainly, they do nothing at all to help people find and embrace religious truth.

      Wouldn't it be better to for people to simply teach whatever truth they think they have and let people decide for themselves what to believe, instead of trying to tear down the beliefs of others?
      John L. Ries
  • From an artistic standpoint, the video may well be a piece of crap.....

    But the fact remains that their revered prophet did commit acts of pedophilia, murder, rape, looting, enslavement, and pillage, because that's what religious "leaders" feel they are entitled to do, just as in the catholic church and many others. If any muslim can deny that having sex with a nine-year old girl is pedophilia, they should be shunned by all, and not just simply for being an idiot. How could anyone trust or respect such a person? Especially if you are the parent of a nine year old girl.
    • You blasphemous pig

      We never insulted your religipn and you should do the same. I believed you would be angry if someone said that your mom had sex with a donkey..there's no indication in the Quran that our beloved Prophet (pbuh) married a 9 yo girl. Infact according to some Idlamic scholars, Aisya was 19 during that time. The were legally married not like you Westerners who commits adultery on a daily basis like animals.
      • Really?

        Care to explain dhimmitude to us?
      • I assure you...

        ...that while sexual misconduct is a problem here in the West, it's nowhere near universal.
        John L. Ries
      • Yes, we all commit adultery on a daily basis like animals, every one of us

        Did you see what you just did? You got upset that someone labeled all Muslim's as the same, yet you turned around around and labeled all Westerners the same - all cheaters, every one of us.

        Are you really any different then us?
        William Farrel
      • Actually my brother

        Mom DID have sex with a donkey and YOU were the result. See that is a specific insult directed towards YOU and no one else... well mom too...

        The point? You got riled up because one person on here called out your prophet and you reacted by accusing all westerners of being adulterous. So instead of just insulting the one who insulted you and your religion you attack everyone to the west of you.

        I've been told that Islam is the religion of peace - if that is so then what's with all of the jihads, the attacks, the flag burnings, the sheer hatred of everything western?
  • Google may have to pull out of Egypt

    If the judgement stands, the only other alternative would be to accept take-down orders from the courts of every country in which Google does business.
    John L. Ries
  • The video did NOT

    Spark any protests at all. Nice to see that you're a proud Obama propagandist, though.
    • Sure, it did

      But it apparently was not why the U.S Ambassador to Libya was assassinated.
      John L. Ries
      • But,

        That is what all the Democrat talking heads said. We were told time and again on ALL of the talk shows (Meet the Press, Face the Nation, etc.) that the riots were actually people protesting the video. Months later we find them ponying up and saying "We were wrong - it was planned for months ahead of time"

        The video was of middle-school quality and just plain bad. The points made were true, but were presented in such a laughable way as to make it seem more like a poorly-done SNL skit. How long did the current administration search YouTube before it pulled this rabbit out of the hat in order to deflect pre-election foreign policy criticism?
        • All of them?

          That was the official position of the State Department, at least initially, but I don't recall seeing elephant or donkey pins on the lapels of news commentators.

          But maybe that's because I don't watch television, except for C-SPAN every once in a while.
          John L. Ries
  • Egypt is still trying to figure out how to be a democracy

    When you're saddled with an overbearing religion that rules every aspect of your life, democracy seems like a very distant, almost unreachable goal.