Should you support or not support the youtube ban?

Its two months since YouTube –the world’s biggest video junction, is banned from Pakistan. Two months ago, a shoddy movie depicting Muhammad (SAW), the Prophet of Islam in a derogatory way was popularized on YouTube. Later, the producer was found to have conned the artists and studio owners into working on the said movie. Later still, the producer was jailed for fraud.

The whole affair was a disgusting sham. The ploy worked, and thousands of Pakistanis came on streets, while hooligans looted and committed acts of arson. The government then decided to block YouTube until the website removes the sacrilegious movie or at least make it unavailable in Pakistan.

Google usually does that. It blocked access to certain pages on YouTube’s website in other countries where the content was deemed inappropriate, like India and Bangladesh. But it did not do it for Pakistan. So, as the said content remain available, whole YouTube remained, and still remains blocked throughout Pakistan.

I have my reasons to believe our government and its officials has little interest in religion. Neither do they base their decisions on Islam. In fact, it can be argued they are not even remotely sincere to the cause of Islam. Yet, they cite religious reasons to press on the ban on the entire YouTube –which has millions of videos on thousands of different topics including a treasure trove of Islamic videos, when clearly the ban is not even serving the religion.

Rather, I believe that the government apparatus is only keen on suppressing avenues of free speech and whistle blowing which are widely accessible to the general public. Already, YouTube videos have exposed influential media public figures and business tycoons. They regularly lambast political bigwigs, and recently, they have been instrumental in getting the word out to the world from rebellions in Syria and wider Middle East. Government of Pakistan feels much more in charge without such a wayward avenue which was fast becoming part of the mainstream media. The mushrooming growth of broadband connectivity in the last decade  have made Internet videos a potent tool at the hands of anonymous reporters and political activists.

The government could not have cited a more indisputable reason to take down Internet media. There is legitimate anger at the small group of miscreants who initiated this devious ploy of instilling unrest in the Muslim world. However, we need to ask ourselves who are we really empowering by banning the entire YouTube. Can the people at the helm of this decision can really be trusted for their sincerity to Islam? Aren’t we making the tyrant rulers stronger by suffocating free media? Are we also not surrendering a very powerful tool to bring down injustice at the orders of these very people who propagate these injustices?

I feel that this debate needs to be taken up in the national discourse. Rather than having a small fanatical pressure group pressing the government, and the government only too happily blocking access to free information, we need to have a more mainstream debate based on reasoning and keeping in view the immense contribution of YouTube to Pakistani society, politics and even religion.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 3, 2013 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

One Response to “Should you support or not support the youtube ban?”

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