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Pakistan orders YouTube shutdown over 'blasphemous' anti-Islam film

Published time: September 17, 2012 16:22
Edited time: September 17, 2012 23:33
Pakistani Shiite Muslims torch a US flag in front of the US consulate building during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore on September 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Arif Ali)

Pakistani Shiite Muslims torch a US flag in front of the US consulate building during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore on September 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Arif Ali)

Pakistan's prime minister has ordered YouTube's suspension in the country over the "blasphemous" anti-Islam film as the country has become gripped by violent protests in response to the video.

"The Prime Minister said that blasphemous material would not be tolerated and the services of YouTube would remain suspended till the removal of blasphemous material," the Prime Minister's office said in a statement.

PM Raja Pervez Ashraf  ordered the ban “after YouTube refused to heed to the advice of the government of Pakistan to remove blasphemous film from its site”.

Pakistan has been trying to block the inflammatory video, which depicts Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a child molester, since Thursday. Over 700 YouTube links to the trailer of the amateur film entitled “The Innocence of Muslims” have been blocked on the authorities' request, but this has proven to be insufficient.

So far, Google has been refusing calls from the White House to review the trailer and ban it altogether, since the clip remains within the company's guidelines. Instead, the US-based company which owns YouTube, has been responding to requests from individual countries.

"We've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries," the company said. "This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007."

In addition to Egypt, Libya, India and Indonesia, access to the video in question has also been blocked in Afghanistan, where authorities blocked YouTube entirely until the video is deleted from the website, and in the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, the anti-film demonstrations in the Asian country are only widening. Monday alone, over 10,000 of Pakistanis all across the country were venting their anger at the US and the film. Two people were killed in clashes with police as hundreds-strong rallies marched through towns and cities burning US flags, portraits of President Barack Obama and at times buildings they were passing. Over 40 people have been arrested.

Pakistani Sunni Muslims torch a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore.(AFP Photo / Arif Ali)
Pakistani Sunni Muslims torch a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore.(AFP Photo / Arif Ali)

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 PAKISTAN, Multan : Pakistani lawyers shout slogans as they burn a US flag and an effigy of US President Barack Obama and Florida pastor Terry Jones during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Multan.(AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)
PAKISTAN, Multan : Pakistani lawyers shout slogans as they burn a US flag and an effigy of US President Barack Obama and Florida pastor Terry Jones during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Multan.(AFP Photo / S.S Mirza)

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Pakistani lawyers shout anti-US slogans as they march during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore.(AFP Photo / Arif Ali)
Pakistani lawyers shout anti-US slogans as they march during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Lahore.(AFP Photo / Arif Ali)