YouTube has started to restrict access to videos of an anti-Islamic film in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, a government official said on Sunday.
“Google, which is YouTube’s parent company, e-mailed us on Thursday evening to say it had blocked Indonesia’s access to 16 URLs related to the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ videos on the site,” Communications and Information Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto said.
Extracts of the film were still available on the video-sharing website on Sunday, but Broto said Google was “making special effort” to prevent the film from being watched in Indonesia.
“We understand that it takes time for Google to block everything as people continue to upload those sensitive videos. We appreciate Google’s cooperation,” he said.
Last Thursday, Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that he asked YouTube and Google to block access to film as soon as possible.
“I got the report from my staff and I also read it through social media … so I asked to my staff to find it on the Internet,” he said. “We’ve already coordinated with YouTube and Google also to block the movie.”
YouTube recently agreed to block access to allegedly blasphemous footage involving a candidate in the Jakarta governor election. The process took just two hours, according to Voice of America.
Tifatul said it is necessary to block the 14-minute anti-Islamic video trailer to prevent tensions from rising further, according to VOA.
“The ambassador of the United States in Libya was killed and also staff members from the United States,” Tifatul told VOA.
“I think this is very sensitive. We’re just trying to think ahead. … We are trying to anticipate and take preventative action, before tensions go up.”
Gatot said the government also wrote to BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to filter the film on its smartphones.
Indonesia is the Canada-based company’s biggest market outside North America.
“We could access the videos on Blackberry too, so we wrote to RIM to ask that it filter the movie,” Gatot said. “RIM has been very cooperative.”
More than 90 percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people are Muslim. Most are decidedly moderate, according to VOA.
On Wednesday, YouTube blocked users in Libya and Egypt from watching the video, but kept the video on its website. The site said in a statement that the video is “clearly within our guidelines” but “given the difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries,” according to VOA.
In cities across the Muslim world, protesters have vented their fury at the “Innocence of Muslims,” an amateur film produced in the United States, by targeting symbols of US influence ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains.
Indonesians staged rallies against the United States on Friday and Saturday over the film, which portrays the Prophet Mohammed as an immoral sexual deviant.
A rally in Sydney against the video on Saturday turned violent.