April 9, 2008

Indonesia Blocks YouTube and Myspace Over Anti-Koran Film

Internet sites like YouTube and Myspace have been blocked by several Indonesian internet providers for carrying a Dutch film that is critical of the Koran, according to an information ministry official.

Geert Wilder, a Dutch anti-immigration politician made the 15-minute film and posted it on several blogs and file-sharing sites.

The film is called "Fitna" (translated as "Strife" when used in the Koran) and alternates images of the September 11, 2001 attacks and other Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran.

It also shows an image of the Prophet Mohammad ready to explode and says the rising number of Muslims in Europe threatens democratic values.

Last week the Indonesian information ministry ordered internet service providers to block sites where Wilders' film appears because it "could disturb relations between the faiths."

Telecommunication firms PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) and PT Exelcomindo Pratama Tbk, and Internet provider Indonet had blocked access to YouTube and social networking site Myspace as well as numerous other blogs and file-sharing sites that provide access to the film.

Some Indonesians, especially people who use those sites for business, were angry over the block.

Protests over the film erupted in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation and a former Dutch colony.

Wilders' film urges Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by a ticking sound.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has urged his predominantly Muslim nation not to use violence in protests against the film.

The Dutch government and the Dutch upper house of parliament have condemned what it called Wilder's "efforts to denigrate Islam and promote hatred".

Last year Thailand blocked YouTube for four months because of clips it deemed offensive to its king. The ban was lifted after YouTube's owner, Google Inc. agreed to ban any videos that break Thai laws or offend the Thai people.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but its government is secular. Hard-line interpretations of the faith generally do not attract much support in Indonesia.

The official website for the film is currently suspended.


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