Pakistan may finally end its ban on the world’s most popular video sharing site, YouTube. The South Asian nation imposed the ban on YouTube in September 2012 after Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) declined to take down the controversial video Innocence of Muslims from the video site. Now that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Google to remove the video, Pakistan has no reason to maintain censorship on YouTube.
Youth in Pakistan don’t want censorship
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s stance was widely seen as blasphemous. The ban on YouTube had a severe impact on many Pakistani students, analysts and businesses. A survey conducted by the Express Tribune in July 2013 showed that about 80% citizens wanted Pakistan to end the ban. The latest U.S. court ruling has given the youth a renewed energy to push the government on lifting the ban. A few days ago, popular Pakistani singer Ali Gul Pir and rapper Adil Omar released their new song “KholoBC“, which opposes state censorship in Pakistan. The song’s video has gone viral on social media with 647,521 Facebook shares and 14,000 clicks on Vimeo.
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However, the U.S. court’s ruling had nothing to do with the controversial depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia had filed a lawsuit, alleging that the film featured a dubbed clip, which she had made for another film. Due to her appearance in the film, Lee Garcia had also received death threats. Pakistan’s technology think-tank Bytes for All said that the YouTube ban is more about the government’s desire to impose censorship, moral policing and content filtering.
Religion a very sensitive issue in Pakistan
In Pakistan, religion is a very sensitive topic. Any perceived insult to the Islamic faith, which makes up 97% of the population, can trigger violent reactions. When Innocence of Muslims was released in 2012, it sparked protests across the nation, which resulted in more than 20 deaths. The Pakistani government has used moral and religious sensitivities to block online content.
According to the Freedom on the Net 2013 report, Pakistan is the tenth least-free country with a “Not Free” status.