The California-made video The Innocence of Muslims, the anti-Islam film behind violent and deadly protests in several countries, is all over YouTube. This has led to the Indonesian government asking Google-owned YouTube to restrict access to the video which portrays the Prophet Mohammed as immoral.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology spokesman, Gatot S. Dewa Broto, said that Google as the parent company of YouTube had emailed them on Thursday evening to say it had blocked Indonesia’s access to 16 URLs related to the “Innocence of Muslims” videos on the site. But the video remained online until Friday noon until access was restricted.
The minister of Communications and Information Technology, Tifatul Sembiring, stated on Friday afternoon that ministry has coordinated with YouTube to take down the videos in question. Extracts of the film were still available with the help of video-sharing websites up until Sunday. Even though Google was making special efforts, it still takes time to block everything due to file sharing. When Indonesians try to access the video now, they will see “This content is not available in your country due to a legal complaint.”
Around 250 people from Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia protested in Apsari Park, Surabaya, regarding the film. This was followed by around 50 Indonesian students who trampled the US flag and threw eggs at a US diplomatic mission American Presence Post, which is part of the US Embassy in Jakarta, in Medan today. This afternoon, thousands of people from Muslim organizations like Gerakan Reformis Islam (Islamic Reformist Movement), Gerakan Pembela Islam (the Islamic Defenders Movement), dan Front Pembela Islam (the Islamic Defenders Front) held a march from Hotel Indonesia to the US Embassy Jakarta to condemn the film. They all demand the same thing: hard punishment for the filmmaker, Sam Bacile. Some even demanded the death penalty.
Muslim protests also occurred in other parts of the world since the film originally appeared on Youtube. Today, Sam Bacile been arrested and questioned by the United States police, but due to illegal drugs possession, not the film.
Broto also said that the government wrote a notification to mobile phone maker RIM to ask for a content filter on its smartphone services. Broto said:
We could access the videos on Blackberry too so we wrote to RIM to ask that it filter them, and RIM has been very co-operative [and filtered it].
The video is also blocked in Libya, Egypt, and India. Minister of Information in Malaysia, Rais Yatim on Sunday also asked Google to remove the video from YouTube from the country as it may trigger violence. Google has begun blocking the video access in Malaysia as a respond to the official complaint. But Google refused a White House request Friday to take it down.
US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said that the video is disgusting and reprehensible. She emphasized religious freedom and tolerance. Clinton added:
The United States government has no connection to the film and absolutely rejects its content and message.
This film was hardly noticed before anti-Muslim activists in Virginia, America, reposted it and sent the links to activists and journalists in Egypt. It doesn’t take a genius with a high budget (or any directing skills) to spread religious hatred online and get instant attention.