|Courtesy of Flikr user Interact Egypt - Play Innovation CC|
The Ministry of Communication would have to administer the ban, which can still be appealed, and which will undoubtedly spark outrage among the Egyptian youth and political activists. At least Egypt's banning requires some form of due process, unlike Google's decision to unilaterally block the video from being viewed in Egypt and Libya last September. I also read that the White House asked Google to remove the video, which I find troubling since while the video may be pathetic and despicable, it certainly would not qualify as incitement (it does not, for example, call on people to commit violence). And here in France, I received a message that the video link was not permitted in my country location.
I got in a debate about this with Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist (yes, he has the coolest title in the world, as he pointed out), at the Internet Governance Forum in Azerbaijan last November. He supported the company's decision whereas in my experience it is not the viewing of the video (or the cartoon, as it may be) that creates turmoil and dismay, but rather the provocation and manipulation by political and religious leaders or others who would refer to it to rile up their followers. When I lived in Egypt in 2006 and 2008 I often discussed the Dutch Mohammed cartoon incident with people because I was interested in their perspective. Everyone had an opinion, which was typically that there should be some expectation of respect and sensitivity for religious figures and symbols in publishing, yet I rarely found that anyone with a strong opinion had actually seen the cartoons themselves.I feel that this is in many ways the same situation that has occurred with the Innocence of Muslims trailer, which was a barely disguised, pathetic attempt to insult and offend Muslims and was clearly designed to be provocative. I doubt that most of the people who took to the streets and rioted had actually seen the video (there have been 5 million views of the video, and riots in 20 countries resulting in 50 deaths). But they had heard about it, and blocking YouTube or the video itself would not have changed that. A month-long ban on the most popular website in the country is both disproportional and an affront to free speech.