September 30, 2012 / IST / Social Media.

There has been a lot of outrage in several Islamic countries over what many consider to be gross sacrilege against the religion and its prophet, Mohammed. The film, dubbed ‘Innocence of Muslims’ (also known as Muhammad Movie Trailer and The Real Life of Muhammad) is seen by many as a horrible portrayal of the religion itself and many violent protests have been staged.

The Pakistani Prime Minister doesn’t want the violence to take root in his country and according to reports; he’s called for a suspension of YouTube in the country. The call is based on fears that many Muslims will watch the video and become incensed, thus spreading the violent protest in a country that already has several seething tensions.

YouTube has censored the video in some parts (Libya and Egypt) and many are calling the move an attack on freedom of speech. That may be the case in one sense, but in a greater sense, YouTube has a responsibility to respect the religious beliefs of people, not just Muslims but people of all faiths.

Some feel YouTube doesn’t go far enough and should ban the video outright on all YouTube sites. This doesn’t seem to be on the cards just yet because as YouTube itself said last week, “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.”

This hard-nosed approach naturally won’t help anyone and the sooner YouTube acts the better. The protests can get bloody and if and when they do, many will castigate not just the maker of the video, but YouTube for giving it a platform.

The video clips were posted on YouTube on July 1 by user “sam bacile”, however by September, the film had been dubbed into Arabic and drew the attention of the Arabic-speaking world by blogger Morris Sadek. Sadek’s own Egyptian citizenship had been revoked. A two-minute excerpt dubbed in Arabic was broadcast on September 9 by Sheikh Khalad Abdalla on Al-Nas, an Egyptian television station.

YouTube voluntarily blocked the video in Egypt and Libya and blocked the video in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and Singapore due to local laws while Turkey, Brazil and Russia have initiated steps to get the video blocked. Google, Inc., owner of YouTube also blocked the video in Pakistan and Egypt citing “the very difficult situation” in those countries. In September 2012 the Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Pakistani governments blocked YouTube for not removing the video, the website will remain suspended until the film is removed.

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