Call to Blank Out YouTube in Emirates Too

Staff Reporter
Filed on March 11, 2009

DUBAI - It is ranked among the top 10 most popular sites in the UAE, but Dubai’s police chief believes that YouTube ‘incites hatred’ and, therefore, should be banned from computers.

On Sunday, Bangladesh became the latest country to impose a block on YouTube after a 40-minute discussion between the Prime Minister and senior generals was posted online. Earlier, in February 2008, the Pakistani government blocked the video-sharing site, because it republished cartoons blasphemous to Islam. Last April, Indonesian officials temporarily blocked YouTube for carrying the film, but restored service a week later.

The Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, Lt Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, appeared to have launched a campaign on Sunday when he called upon Etisalat to ban YouTube, which uploads more than 200,000 videos each day. He was addressing the general assembly of the Juveniles Education and Care Association here.

Tamim said that the website contained videos that ‘sparked dissension’, especially on religious belief. “Publishing pornographic material and defamatory ideas is not freedom,” Tamim later commented in the Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm.

Mohammed Okour, spokesman for Etisalat, said that the company had received no request from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which determines whether or not a website should be banned in the UAE. None was available for comment on Monday.

In 2006 YouTube removed videos from right-wing activists such as Michelle Malkin, who posted several videos defaming Islam. A film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, which criticises Islam, is banned in the UAE through conventional websites. However, it still available on YouTube.

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