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Middle East

Egypt blocks YouTube over anti-Islam film

Court orders suspension of video-sharing website's services for a month for carrying anti-Islam film.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2013 18:14
People took to the streets in more than 20 countries to protest against the "Innocence of Muslims" flim [Getty Images]

A Cairo court has ordered the government to block access to the video-sharing website YouTube for a month for carrying an anti-Islam film that caused deadly riots across the world.

Judge Hassouna Tawfiq ordered on Saturday Youtube's suspension in the country over the film, which he described as "offensive to Islam and the Prophet (Muhammad)".

Tawfiq made the ruling in the Egyptian capital where the first protests against the film erupted last September before spreading to more than 20 countries, leading to the deaths of more than 50 people.

YouTube's parent company, Google, declined requests to remove the video from the website last year, but restricted access to it in certain countries, including Egypt, Libya and Indonesia, because it says the video broke laws in those countries.

At the height of the protests in September, YouTube was ordered blocked in several countries, including Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued an order blocking all websites with access to the anti-Islam film in the kingdom.

Security threat allegation

Mohammed Hamid Salim, a lawyer who filed the lawsuit in Cairo, alleged the film constitutes a threat to Egypt's security, adding that YouTube refused to remove the film despite its offensive content.

Protesters in Cairo scaled the US Embassy's walls and brought down the US flag in the first demonstration against the film last year.

Also last year, an Egyptian court convicted in absentia seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to the anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, who mostly live in the United States, were outside Egypt and unlikely to ever face the sentence.

In a related case, a Cairo court had also convicted a Coptic Christian blogger who shared the film on social networking sites.

The blogger was sentenced to three years in prison for blasphemy and contempt of religion, but released on bail shortly thereafter.

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