The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, has ordered the shutdown of the video-sharing website YouTube in order to prevent any further violence related to the anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims.”
According to a report in the Pakistani English language newspaper, Dawn, Ashraf issued the directive to the country’s Ministry of Information Technology, after YouTube refused to remove the film from its services.
The Pakistani ban on YouTube will remain in force until the film is deleted.
However, YouTube said it has blocked access to the film in Libya, Egypt, India and Indonesia.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” said a statement from YouTube on Friday.
“This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, 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. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”
Protests against the blasphemous movie have already spread to Pakistan, with one person dying in clashes with police in Karachi.
The violence erupted when a crowd of protesters – led by the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba, the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami -- were attempting to march to the US Consulate.
A police official said that 30 students were arrested in the melee.
Another person was killed during a protest against the film in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province.
The Pakistani foreign ministry has already condemned the film.
“The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the airing of a defamatory video clip in the US, maligning the revered and pious personality of Prophet Mohammad,” the ministry said last week.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.