YouTube, the second most-visited website on the Internet, has been ordered blocked for a month in Egypt.
The freeze is due to the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims, that caused international uproar and riots for its offensive representation of Muslims and their prophet Muhammad. The 14-minute short was made in the U.S. by an Egyptian-born Christian, who posted it to the video-sharing site in September. Despite the backlash, YouTube refused to take it down, only restricting access to it in select countries like Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Libya Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. It currently has 1.8 million views and is preceded by a warning screen that reads: “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially offensive or inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.”
That wasn’t enough for the Egyptian courts who ruled on Saturday that YouTube be blocked in the country for 30 days. Under the new Egyptian constitution blasphemy or insulting religious messengers and prophets is considered a crime.
No word on how the courts would instill the ban, and the site was still running in Egypt on Saturday. Several human rights activists say its a step in the wrong direction.
“This verdict shows that judges’ understanding of technology is weak,” a human rights lawyer told the AP. “The judges do not realize that one wrong post on a website does not mean you have to block the entire website.”
This isn’t the first time this type of cyber ban has occured in Egypt. Former President Hosni Mubarak blocked use of the Internet completely during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution to prevent activists from galvanizing on the World Wide Web.
Two other lawsuits are pending in relation to the Innocence of Muslims film, with one case asking for the complete ban of the Google (YouTube’s parent company) search engine and that the company pay a $2 billion fine. Google has not responded to the courts ruling, yet.