We received an official statement from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) today that it has blocked the access to recently uploaded videos on YouTube that are anti-Islamic and meant to defame our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The official statement says, “The Authority is in close liaison with all the service providers for immediate blocking of the provocative video being uploaded with changed Internet Protocol from abroad. Proactive monitoring and blocking is being done, round the clock”.
Unfortunately, PTA found it more important to release the official stance than do anything practical on ground as most of the leading Pakistani ISPs are still making it possible for people to access those videos (without even using any proxy) which are actually the trailers of the blasphemous movie titled ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
The film that has been allegedly produced by Israeli and American citizen Sam Bacile has caused huge anger and resentment among Muslims of Arab World including Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The protests resulted in the death 5 US officials and 10 Libyan policemen including US Ambassador to Libya on September 11, 2012 in Egypt. Further, these protests spread in Yemen on September 13th to the US embassy in Sanaa.
International media as well as Wikipedia has quoted the team of film as saying that number of people from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt were involved in making of this film using pseudonym.
Most of the actors of the film as reported by foxnews have said that they were duped and now distancing themselves from the movie that triggered riots in the Muslim world. It is also being reported that origin of the producer and donors of the film is still not confirmed although many reputed new agencies including AP have claimed that they talked to the producer and director of the film. But according to latest reports they are remaining incognito following the violence in Libya. The movie which could not gathered a response in theater was landed on YouTube somehow, may be as a part of conspiracy, where it is getting millions of hits.
I personally don’t understand what kind of freedom of expression is being maintained at YouTube because it released its official stance to international media regarding the film as;
“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,” a rep for the Google-owned website told foxnews. “However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya”
The statement is an evidence of double standards as last month Google positively reciprocated to Indian authorities for removing the content that was hurting Indian government but here in our case, the content is well within their policy guidelines. Perhaps no one asked from our side to remove the content as this could even spark even more violence than we witnessed in the Indian state of Assam last month. But, our regulatory body and government is only limited to issuing a mere a useless press release.
We mustn’t forget that Google has already announced that it earns USD 500mn in terms of ad revenue from a 22 million of internet subscribers base of Pakistan. In no way we are helpless to record our agitation to them in a proper manner and our dumb authorities shouldn’t feel any kind of pressure of being smaller than India in this particular case.
Instead of blocking the access to these videos and then waiting a repeat of past episode of witnessing a countrywide protests to ban YouTube in Pakistan, out authorities (PTA and Government) must contact YouTube and advocate our point of view over this blasphemous content and get it removed for ever.
For sure, Google has its interests in Pakistan, it also has its country representative/consultant – Badar Khushnood who keeps working for the promotion of Google based technology in Pakistan. Recently, he has played quite a good role in bringing closer Google and Government of Punjab for educational and development related projects. So therefore, PTA must act promptly before it is too late.