Update: The offending video has since been removed and Youtube has now been unblocked. Good work all around.
Youtube.com is inaccessible from several ISPs here in Pakistan and there are reports that all ISPs have been directed by the Pakistani government to block www.youtube.com for containing blasphemous web content.
This ban has reportedly been placed because of this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3s8jtvvg00 – and no matter what you want to say about censorship and the freedom of speech, this video is downright abusive and hateful. I managed to load the video through Anonymizer, but stopped after the first few seconds – not out of any respect for Islam, but because the video goes far beyond what you would consider satire and is essentially hate speech.
An extract from an email posted at Awab Alvi’s blog:
Dear Valued Customer:
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (www.pta.gov.pk) has directed all ISPs of the country to block access to www.youtube.com web site for containing blasphemous web content/movies.
The site would remain blocked till further orders from PTA. Meanwhile, Internet users can write to youtube.com to remove the objectionable web content/movies because this removal would enable the authorities to order un-blocking of this web site.
We’re sorry for any inconvenience.
Technical Assistance Center
Micronet Broadband Pvt. Ltd.
After confirming from friends across the country, it seems as if several ISPs – WorldCall, Micronet and Multinet have blocked Youtube, while people can still access the site through mobile providers (Wateen, Telenor, Mobilink).
This hasn’t been the first time Youtube has been blocked in a country, nor is it the first time that government authorities in Pakistan have blocked websites (The blogspot affair comes to mind) for showing blasphemous content.
I’m hoping, personally, that Google remove this video from YouTube – it’s in bad taste and is essentially the same sort of extremist behavior that people from both sides are trying to fight against.