The YouTube was banned in Pakistan in September 2012 after a blasphemous video titled “Innocence of Muslims” was uploaded on it, and Muslims all over the world protested against it. A petition was filed with the Lahore High Court challenging the ban on the YouTube. In a recent statement, the counsel for petitioner advocate Yasser Latif Hamdani said that the YouTube ban took away the right of Muslims to respond to scurrilous attacks on Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). A local lawyer in Peshawar High Court has also challenged the ban on the YouTube. It is outrageous that the Google has uploaded Part-2 of the same movie on the site, which is more derogatory and blasphemous in nature. In this backdrop, opening of YouTube with the present content is likely to create law and order and security issues. On 21st September 2012, at least 23 people were dead in Karachi alone, as thousands of protesters went berserk. In Peshawar, five people including a policeman were killed. Eight cinemas in Karachi and Peshawar, many banks and shops and a church in Mardan were attacked by the protestors.
The film had sparked protests across the Middle East and was even thought to have caused the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. According to a press report, Google Inc. - the owner of YouTube - is currently engaged in talks with Pakistani officials to lift the ban on YouTube in Pakistan. The caretaker government is reported to have said that ban will be lifted as soon as the blasphemous video that provoked protests in Muslim countries is removed. A senior official of information technology ministry has recently disclosed that the officials are of the view that at least the controversial video may be blocked in Pakistan if Google could not remove it altogether from the website. Last November the committee had suggested in its report, which was placed before the then prime minister that the ban on YouTube in Pakistan should continue until Google Inc., agreed to remove the controversial video voluntarily. So far, the Google has refused to remove the controversial video.
The problem is that about half of the Internet users in country have found ways to unblock YouTube and other thousands of blocked porn sites, which had also been blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Before banning of YouTube, the links of the objectionable video were blocked by PTA, but to no avail, as the anti-Islam elements were uploading the blasphemous movie again and again. YouTube still contains clippings uploaded by anti-state elements with a view to stirring sectarian hatred, showing vulgarity and clippings of beheadings of Muslims/members of Armed Forces of Pakistan. The decision of blocking YouTube was also in line with the Honorable Supreme Court directives and observations, and orders of the then Prime Minister in the larger national interest. There is demand from various sections of society that ban on the YouTube should stay until Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and technical measures like deployment of an effective URL blocking system are in place.
Ummah should work in unison on a strategy to stop the West from acts of blasphemy that hurts the feelings and sentiments of more than 1.62 billion Muslims, which make one-fourth of the world population. After publication of cartoons in Danish newspaper Saudi Arabia and Libya had recalled their ambassadors to Denmark while leaders of other countries had condemned the publication of sacrilegious cartoons and defence of the shameful act by some western leaders. The West claims to be upholder of fundamental rights, tolerance and respect for others’ faiths, but in practice they do things that tend to inflame the sentiments of the Muslims. When the latter retaliate, they dub them as extremists and terrorists. Their intellectuals and the people in general continue demonising Islam for the acts of terrorism by a very small minority of extremists and terrorists. The western countries should stop misusing the right of freedom of speech to hurt Muslims and followers of other faiths. If they do not stop it, they would make this world unsafe for the present and the coming generations.