Cairo: Condemning an anti-Islam film video as “offensive”, an Egypt court on Saturday ordered the government to block the popular website YouTube for a month for carrying the objectionable 14-minute clip of the movie called "Innocence of Muslims".
The protests over the anti-Islam film erupted in Cairo last September and spread to more than 20 countries causing violent riots.
A judge of Cairo court, Hassouna Tawfiq ordered YouTube blocked for carrying the film, which he described as "offensive to Islam and the Prophet (Muhammad)."
The ruling however can be appealed, and based on precedent, might not be enforced. A spokeswoman for YouTube's parent company, Google, said in a statement that the firm had "received nothing from the judge or government related to this matter."
The 14-minute trailer depicts Prophet as a philandered, fraud and a pedophile.
Egypt's new constitution includes a ban on insulting "religious messengers and prophets." Broadly worded blasphemy laws were also in effect under former President Hosni Mubarak prior to his ouster in a popular revolt two years ago.
Similar orders to censor pornographic websites deemed offensive have not been enforced in Egypt because of high costs associated with technical applications. Blocking YouTube might be easier to enforce, though it also can be circumvented by active Internet users.
Rights activists say Egypt's ministry of communications and information technology has appeared unwilling to enforce such bans. The Cabinet spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said the decision to ban YouTube stems in large part from a lack of knowledge among judges about how the Internet works. Activists say this has led to a lack of courtroom discussion on technical aspects of digital technology, leaving cases based solely on threats to national security and defamation of religion.
"This verdict shows that judges' understanding of technology is weak," Eid said. "The judges do not realize that one wrong post on a website does not mean you have to block the entire website."
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013, 09:43