YouTube Blocks ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Video After Violence Erupts in Middle East
On September 12, the Associated Press reported that the above video, uploaded by sam bacile, had been blocked by YouTube in Egypt and Libya, due to violence and protests incited by its negative depiction of the prophet Muhammad.
Two months after it was uploaded, the 14-minute low-budget film, “Innocence of Muslims,” was dubbed in Arabic, with clips of it being shown on Egyptian TV channels.
The highly offensive content sparked an outcry amongst ultraconservative Muslims, who stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, replacing the American flag with an Islamic banner. This incident occurred just hours before Libyan protestors burned down the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members.
In an uncharacteristic public statement on Wednesday, YouTube addressed its decision to block the video:
We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. 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, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya.
The original video above currently has over 2.6 million views.
UPDATE: According to Visible Measures, the “Innocence of Muslims” film has surpassed 10 million views online, taking into account over 320 instances of the film, including trailers, segments, and the full-length films. The most-watched clip, uploaded by NewsPoliticsNow3, has 3.6 million views.
According to the Associated Press, Los Angeles resident Nakoula Basseley Nakoula identified himself as the manager for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims.” It’s been speculated that Sam Bacile (the name of the YouTuber who uploaded the original video above) is one of Nakoula’s aliases. While Nakoula denied this rumor, the details behind those involved in the production remain shadowy.