Debate grows about banning anti-Muslim video

September 15, 2012 12:26:07 AM PDT
Whether or not to take a controversial film off YouTube has been a hot topic among Muslim Americans as well as the defenders of Internet free speech.

In more than 30 countries, Muslims are rioting due in part to the YouTube video "The Innocence Of Muslims." The film has sparked anti-American violence, killings and vocal reactions from Muslims in the Middle East to Northern California.

"It is very shameful, disrespectful and outrageous, frankly, that something like this would be put out to represent any people," Yemeni Youth for Change spokesperson Mokhtar Alkhanshali said.

Alkhanshali viewed the video recently and says he agrees with the Muslim argument for taking it off the Web, but disagrees with the violent reaction it sparked.

"They wanted to defend Islam but what they did was cause more harm to Islam; as a Muslim I know it it's at Islam's fundamental core that you do not harm anybody," he said.

Freedom of speech sits at the crux of the argument raging as to whether the video should be censored. Friday, the White House called the video offensive and reprehensible. It sent a request to Google, which owns YouTube. "We reached out to YouTube to call the video to their attention and ask them to review whether it violates their terms of use," a statement from the White House said.

"When the White House calls you up and asks you about a video it sends a certain message; it has a chilling effect," EFF spokesperson Eva Galperin said.

Galperin is the International Freedom of Expression Coordinator for San Francisco's Electronic Freedom Foundation. She says Google has already blocked the video in Egypt, India, Indonesia and Libya. But the idea that the U.S. might consider censoring it is problematic.

"They would have to demonstrate that the content of the video or the message of the video is illegal in some way and the First Amendment is a big stumbling block to that," Galperin said.

Google responded that they have restricted the video to comply with local laws rather than as a response to political pressure, saying, "We 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 those countries."

The man who made the anti-Muslim video is a felon who was banned from using computers or the Internet as part of his sentence. California's probation department s the reviewing whether he violated the terms of his five-year probation.


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