Still from the controversial Innocence of Muslims film on YouTube

Still from the controversial Innocence of Muslims film on YouTube

In an attempt to appease the growing unrest in the country, the Government of Pakistan decided to block the social networking site YouTube as of Monday, September 17, 2012. The move came hours after protests in the southern city of Karachi turned violent, leaving two protesters dead.

The order for the ban came from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf after the request for removal of the infamous video was refused. A statement from his office said “The direction has been given after YouTube refused to heed to the advice of the government of Pakistan to remove blasphemous material from its site.”

The trailer of the movie titled ‘Innocence of Muslims’ unleashed a series of violent protests when it was uploaded onto YouTube last week. The movie was made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American real-estate developer who wanted to showcase his view of Islam as a hateful religion. Muslims across the world have taken to streets to condemn this movie and are demanding its removal from YouTube. The United States (US) consulates in as many as 20 countries have come under attack, with angry mobs pelting stones and chanting anti-US slogans.

In Pakistan, the protests began on Friday (14th of September, 2012) after the prayers when people marched towards the US consulates in rallies organized by various religious parties. Due to increased security of all diplomatic agencies, the protests were controlled and no casualties were reported.

The situation turned worse on the eve of Sunday, September 16, when a group of people protesting outside the US consulate in Karachi clashed with the police. As all the roads leading to the consulate being heavily cordoned off, friction between the protesters and the security personal resulted in aerial firing. Dozens of people were seriously wounded as a result of which two later succumbed to their injuries. The embassy was pelted with stones and a police post was also set on fire.

In Peshawar, the protest also turned violent when the protesters were barred from entering the consulate. The police tried to disperse the crowd using tear gas shells and aerial firing that injured two people.

On Tuesday in neighbouring Afghanistan, a suicide bomb claimed the lives of 12 people in retaliation for the movie.

While Google has blocked access to the infamous video in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Libya and Malaysia it has not been removed. Reports of YouTube being banned in Bangladesh have now surfaced after the request for the removal went unheeded.

According to the acting Chairman of Bangladesh’s telecommunications, Giashuddin Ahmed, the website was banned to website “to prevent violence and social disorder over the derogatory video”.

The reaction in Pakistan over the YouTube ban have so far been mixed.

Written by Sidra Rizvi


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