The YouTube video hosting service may become unavailable to Russians. The reason is that the trailer to the notorious film Innocence of Muslims is available there. The Genprokuratura recognised the film as extremist and insulting to Muslims. However, Google, which owns YouTube, refused to restrict access to the clip. The Genprokuratura filed a case in court to forbid the circulation of the film in Russia. There’s been no decision taken on the matter yet, but the Genprokuratura already instructed the Public Oversight Commission to take the appropriate steps. The trailer, which appeared on YouTube, provoked a wave of anti-American protests in Muslim countries.
In spite of requests from governments around the world, Google declared that it wouldn’t delete the clip. Later, access to it was restricted, but not in all countries. For example, in Pakistan, the scandalous film wasn’t blocked. As a result, the local authorities ordered ISPs to close access to YouTube for all Pakistani users. The same could happen in Russia. Amendments to the law protecting children from harmful material come into effect on 1 November. If YouTube doesn’t delete the page containing the forbidden clip by that time, all Russian ISPs would have to restrict access to this site.
Ivan Zasursky, the Chairman of Communications Theory of the Journalism Department of Moscow State University believes, “Still, it’s unlikely that things would go that far, with YouTube being blocked. Even if the law allowed putting YouTube on the list of sites to be blocked, it isn’t obligatory to do so. YouTube is a law-abiding company in all countries where it broadcasts. In some Arab countries, the film is unavailable. I believe that in Russia it’d be unavailable too”.
Meanwhile, Terry Jones, the mastermind of the scandalous film, has become persona non grata in Europe. The American pastor was notorious even before Innocence of Muslims was posted online. He’s known for burning Qurans. Recently, when he wanted to visit Germany at the invitation of an ultra-right group, the German authorities declared that his presence in their country was undesirable. Washington also seems to realise what kind of genie it let out of the bottle. The American government admitted that the wave of protests in the Arab world could result in a long crisis with unpredictable consequences.
18 September 2012
Voice of Russia World Service