Pakistan official consider options for filtering YouTube videos

 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

For two months, Pakistanis have been unable to call up YouTube to watch an anti-Islam video that sparked deadly riots here and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

But neither have they been able to use the service to view the US presidential debates, to catch the "Gangnam Style" craze or even to laugh at silly kitties in the Friskies Internet Cat Video Awards.

Now, the netizens of Pakistan are telling the government that they want their YouTube back, prompting a re-evaluation of the ban.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, a regular social media user, announced this week that the government will set up a committee to find a way to filter anti-Islamic content on YouTube — most notoriously, the crudely made "Innocence of Muslims" video that mocked the Prophet Mohammad — but still let Bollywood music videos continue to entertain the nation.

Malik's announcement followed the sentencing of "Innocence of Muslims" filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef of California to a year in prison for parole violations.

The decision to revisit the YouTube ban had nothing to do with the Youssef's imprisonment, the ministry said. A large number of people on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites asked for a lifting of the ban, a ministry official explained, but the government wants to ensure that objectionable or material deemed blasphemous is blocked.

"I will do my best to open U tube," Malik tweeted on Tuesday. "You all know that this matter does not concern my ministry yet every body demands me to open it."

The ban was put in place by the Ministry of Information Technology in mid-September on the orders of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Although high-speed Internet access is too expensive for the vast majority of residents here, many Pakistanis use their phones to surf the Internet because of low per-minute usage charges. And while pop music hits are popular, so too is religious programming.

Last week a reader of the English language daily Dawn complained in a letter to the editor that he was unable to follow his routine of the last few years of watching the Hajj religious pilgrimage on the Internet.

"I am sure that like me, many students, researchers, and knowledge seekers are missing a great utility that has been blocked because of the malicious designs of one criminal mind and failure of our telecommunication authorities in taking the pain to selectively block the websites involved in posting blasphemous material," the writer said.

This is not the first time the Internet has been censored here.

Twitter was briefly banned in May for tweets encouraging participation in "Everyone Draw Muhammad Day" on Facebook. Any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous to Muslims.

Facebook has been shut down more than once over a page promoting the contest. The page still cannot be accessed in Pakistan.

Free speech activists call the bans ineffective, knee- jerk reactions that ultimately serve no purpose. Twitter users managed to circumvent the shutdown and continued to tweet via their mobile devices. Some YouTube users also have found ways to access its videos, including using proxy sites.

"Either we block the entire Internet, form our own version of the Internet like Iran is trying to do, or come to terms with the fact that we live in a global society," the Express Tribune, another daily here, quoted its web editor as saying.

The interior ministry official, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, made clear that the will of the people ultimately determine what material is allowed and what will be blocked as objectionable: "This is an Islamic country and we are Muslims and we need to be mindful of the sentiments of the public."

No decision has been announced on who will serve on the committee reconsidering the YouTube ban.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice