Tuesday, 18 September 2012

TRA Calls for Innocence of Muslims Block

The TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) has directed the UAE's telcos, Etisalat and Du, to block access to the film trailer for 'Innocence of Muslims'. The trailer has been the cause of widespread and often violent protests around the world which have led to over seventeen deaths.

I checked just before mid-day but YouTube access to the film trailer wasn't blocked. Google has resisted suggestions it take down the content, although has supported legally backed blocking requests in Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Libya and India.

It's an unpleasant little film and, in my humble opinion, is quite clearly in contravention of Google's guidelines, which allow it to block content if it constitutes 'hate speech'. The film and its intentions are clearly hateful in the extreme. I for one would hate to be the person who decided this wasn't hate speech, because they have seventeen deaths - and rising - on their hands.

But the film, judging by the trailer, is also clearly the result of a deranged mind. It is laughably acted, woefully directed and amateurish in the extreme. It's quite, quite potty. However, it purports to depict the Prophet Mohammad, which is at the core of the anger the film has caused.

You can clearly hear dialogue spliced in, supporting the actors' claims that the anti-Muslim content was jacked in at post production. The result is a school project gone wrong - but crucially, a film that has met the desires of its maker. Because, of course, we have that reinforcement of Islam as a violent, antipathetic religion - certainly at odds with my twenty six years' experience of travelling, working and for the past twenty years living in the Arab World. And the many, more reasoned, online objections expressed by Muslims all over the world to the trailer have, of course, not made the headlines.

Is blocking it the answer? I suspect not. Supporting its takedown is one thing, but stopping people accessing content that is having such a profound effect on our world means stopping people being able to make up their own minds and make informed judgement while others around the world continue to enjoy that privilege. Even if that content is hateful to us.
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Mark said...

I totally agree.

While I believe in religious freedom, I also believe in freedom of speech, including the questioning of such religions. This may include ridicule eg monty python's "life of brian".

Of course, freedom of speech also means that if you dont like what someone is saying about your religion, you should voice your opinion, go out onto the street, protest, shout, get angry, whatever you want ....

.... but NEVER turn to violence.

Mark said...

Here is a great example of people with non-compatible religious views having a healthy colourful debate without animosity.

Rabbi Sacks vs Richard Dawkins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roFdPHdhgKQ

The key here is respect. As long as there is respect you can debate religion just as you would debate politics.

Luke said...

Richard Dawkins has written a great article on this subject, also drawing parallels to Life of Brian:


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