Egypt's administrative court ordered the country's National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) [official website, in Arabic] on Friday to block YouTube [official website] because it carried the controversial amateur film Innocence of Muslims [BBC backgrounder]. The amateur film sparked violent protests in the Middle East last year for portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer. The court declared [Reuters report] that YouTube should be blocked because by choosing to carry Innocence of Muslims, YouTube provided a forum for insulting the Prophet Muhammad and disrespecting the beliefs of Muslims. The NTRA plans to carry out the ruling as soon as it receives a copy of the verdict. The ban is expected to last one month.
Innocence of Muslims has generated a great deal of political, religious and legal controversy. Two weeks ago an Egyptian court upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] of seven Coptic Christians and an American preacher on charges stemming from the film. In September an actress who claims she was duped into appearing in the film filed suit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] requesting that the film be removed from YouTube. Earlier in September UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai [official website] condemned the violence [JURIST report] that erupted after the film's release. Kiai stated that protests and rallies must be peaceful to be protected by international human rights law and urged the Middle East states to prosecute those responsible for the violence. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged religious and political leaders [JURIST report] to encourage an end to the violence that followed the release of the film.