Should Ban Continue on YouTube?
By Sajjad Shaukat
With the rapid development of science, range of the TV channels has extended to many countries. But social media networking websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. which are being communicated through the internet search engines have become more popular in the world. Even in a developing country like Pakistan, the number of internet users is constantly on the rise. According to an estimate there are more than 30 million people in the country, who have access to the internet.
However, YouTube was banned in Pakistan on September 22, 2012 when a blasphemous US-made film “Innocence of Muslims,” was uploaded on it, which resulted into massive protests and violent demonstrations in more than 30 Islamic countries, leading to loss of life and property. In Pakistan, a national holiday was announced on September 21, 2012 to observe it as Yaum-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH) against the sacrilegious film. Violent protesters plunged the country into chaos, as 30 people were killed in nationwide protests. In this regard, the American ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya and three of his staff were killed. Nevertheless, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Iran insisted upon the YouTube to block the movie, but operator of the webpage of the Google refused to remove it.
Although Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has banned access to the YouTube, yet the anti-Islam elements have continuously been maintaining the blasphemous movie targeting the Holy Prophet (PBUH). So, YouTube still contains clippings uploaded by these anti-Islam and anti-state entities for promoting sectarian hatred and vulgarity.
In 2008 too, the YouTube was banned in Pakistan, as it had hurt the feelings of Muslims across the world by uploading a film by Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, which displayed links between Islam and terrorism. It resulted in wide demonstrations, but afterwards the ban was lifted on the YouTube.
In May, 2010, the sacrilegious caricatures competition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) inspired by an American cartoonist on Facebook and YouTube triggered violent protests across the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular. On the orders of Lahore High Court, PTA had banned access to Facebook including YouTube, and even restricted access to Wikipedia in view of what it called “growing sacrilegious content.”
It is mentionable that anti-Islam activities have been conducted by some elements on the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, which not only want to distort the image of Islam, but also seek to create division between the Islamic and the Western Worlds.
As a matter of fact, by hurting the emotions of the Muslims through the previous anti-Islam activities and the movie, these plotters intend to create a greater resentment among the Muslims against the Western world in general and the United States in particular. During each such occasion, protesters in the Islamic countries raised anti-US slogans, burnt American flags and targeted US embassies and installations. This was especially observed in Pakistan where leaders of the political and religious parties also delivered emotional speeches on this sensitive matter.
Nonetheless, reprinting of the caricatures about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and release of a Dutch film against the Holy Quran was also part of the conspiracy against the Muslims. The film equates Islam with violence, followed by the 9/11 terror attacks inside the US, showing Muslim leaders preaching inflammatory sermons against Jews and Christians. It displayed that Europe is under threat from Islamic beliefs and practices.
Those who are behind these fanatic entities intend to fulfill their political designs. In these terms, by availing the international phenomena of terrorism, Indo-Israeli lobbies are collectively working in America and other European countries to manipulate the double standard of the west in relation to terrorism and human rights vis-à-vis some Islamic countries. Israel and India are equating the ‘war of independence’ in Kashmir and Palestine with terrorism. If India considers Pakistan as its enemy number one, Israel takes Iran in the same sense particularly due to its nuclear programme which is also negated by the US. However, all these similarities of interest have brought the two countries to follow a common secret diplomacy with the tactical support of Washington, targeting Pakistan, Iran, Syria etc.
These blasphemous activities against the religion of Muslims resulted into the recruitment of more militants by the terrorist groups. Instead of curbing terrorism, these acts cause more terrorism in the volatile countries like Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc. The sacrilegious film which was uploaded on the YouTube provided the Islamic militants with new ammunition. It is said that Al Qaeda is the winner. If such nefarious acts continue, even moderate Muslims will join the radicals.
Regrettably, the US and some European top officials have defended the anti-Islamic cartoons and film under the pretext of freedom of speech. Critics say that if western democracies have passed laws against anti-Semitism and denials of the holocaust, as to why there is no such law about anti-Islam moves. Nevertheless, it indicates double standard of these liberal and civilized countries which have further encouraged those who want to sabotage the world peace through division.
In this respect, Organization of the Islamic Countries (OIC) should take up a case in the UN by drafting a resolution—not allowing any person to misuse the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) name and make movies and caricatures on him. Necessary legislation as was carried out by Jews on laws related to denial of Holocaust should be done.
Besides, OIC should setup central or regional hubs of filtering units. OIC and Pakistan should ensure that evil attacks on Islam do not occur both inside and outside the Islamic countries.
Particularly, Pakistan-based equivalent of YouTube should be developed for the public. Pakistan’s versions of search engines, video sharing platforms and networking sites be designed like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.
Before lifting the ban on the YouTube, Pakistan’s concerned authorities should sign favorable agreements with the Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media networking sites. These include Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and automatic filtering software.
Moreover, Google and YouTube should be asked to get registered and pay taxes, while Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should take action against the search engines and the social media websites which are earning from Pakistan. And Google including these websites should obey Pakistan Government’s requirements and sign agreements for legalizing their services.
Meanwhile, all clippings of the movie “Innocence of Muslims” and “The Innocent Prophet” should be removed from YouTube and sentiments of the Muslims should be respected.
The decision of blocking YouTube was also in line with the orders of the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan. So, Google must first apologize to the Muslims for hurting their feelings.
In case, Google and the above mentioned websites do no fulfil the requirements of the Pakistan Government, and do not pay attention to the emotions of public, especially ban should continue on the YouTube.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power