The film, allegedly produced by Southern California convicted felon Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is a bizarre, amateur attempt to portray Muhammad as a blood-thirsty child molesting philanderer. This riled up many in the Islamic world because religious law forbids their prophet’s image from being displayed.
YouTube released a statement through the Associated Press on its decision to block the offensive content abroad. They are in support of letting creators express themselves without retribution, but while “Innocence of Muslims” may not be a reason for censorship in the United States, it’s not the same 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.”
Blocking “Innocence of Muslims” still hasn’t stopped young Muslims in Yemen, Egypt and Libya from protesting and attacking U.S. diplomatic missions as of today.
Now, the White House wants YouTube to go further and “review” the film — which is a subtle hint that they want the video out of public view worldwide. YouTube has stated already that it is within the guidelines and won’t be removed completely. It is unclear, however, whether community guidelines that clearly state that it doesn’t permit “hate speech” includes uploading such videos like “Innocence of Muslims.”
If the White House is dictating to YouTube that it should consider removing the film, then it would only infringe on people’s right to free speech in the United States. Anything would be fair game. It is, however, understandable that YouTube should respect foreign customs and remove it from view outside of the U.S. without censoring American free speech.
While “Innocence of Muslims” is hands-down a terrible film content-wise and production-wise, YouTube should not be in the position where it has to remove something completely because of unjust violent reaction abroad.