Google blocks anti-Islam video in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Google has blocked the anti-Islam clip “Innocence of Muslims” from the YouTube video-sharing service in Malaysia since late yesterday following complaints from regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) about the clip that has sparked violent protests across the Muslim world as it insults Prophet Muhammad.
The Malaysian Insider learnt that the MCMC had cited section 298A (1) of the Penal Code in its complaint to the world’s leading search engine that owns the YouTube site. Both Google and YouTube have local sites in Malaysia, which has a nearly 70 per cent broadband penetration and a major market for video-sharing sites.
Checks by The Malaysian Insider showed that any search of the controversial video clip from a Malaysian IP address will show a note saying: “This content is not available in your country due to a legal complaint.” The video has already been blocked in Egypt and Libya, scene of violent protests against the video.
“We have clear community guidelines, and when videos breach those rules, we remove them. In addition, where we have launched YouTube locally and we are notified that a video is illegal in that country, we will restrict access to it after a thorough review,” Google Malaysia communications and public affairs head Zeffri Yusof said yesterday.
Industry sources said the MCMC had relied on section 298A (1) as it was broad enough to put a case against the video clip. The law states that “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organising, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organising, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner —
(a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will; or
(b) prejudices, or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not more than five years.”
Several Muslim groups protested against the video clip outside the US Embassy here last Friday and Umno Youth has indicated it will also stage a protest. The movement has joined others in condemning the video clip.
Reuters news agency has reported that a California man convicted of bank fraud was taken in for questioning on Saturday by officers investigating possible probation violations stemming from the making of the video clip.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, voluntarily left his home in the early hours of Saturday morning for the meeting in a sheriff’s station in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos.
Nakoula, who has denied involvement in the film in a phone call to his Coptic Christian bishop, was ushered out of his home and into a waiting car by several sheriff’s deputies, his face shielded by a scarf, hat and sunglasses.
The crudely made 13-minute English-language film, filmed in California and circulated on the Internet under several titles including “Innocence of Muslims”, mocks the Prophet Mohammad.
The film sparked a violent protest at the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi during which the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday. Protests have spread to other countries across the Muslim world.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.
Nakoula, whose name has been widely linked to the film in media reports, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010 and was sentenced to 21 months in prison, to be followed by five years on supervised probation, court documents showed.
Clips of the film posted on the Internet since July have been attributed to a man by the name of Sam Bacile, which two people linked to the film have said was likely an alias.
A telephone number said to belong to Bacile, given to Reuters by US-based Coptic Christian activist Morris Sadek who said he had promoted the film, was later traced back to a person who shares the Nakoula residence.