Nearly six years after anti-Islam video Innocence Of Muslims became the center of an international storm, Egypts top court has ordered authorities to block YouTube in the country for one month. The ruling came on Saturday after a lengthy appeals process over the short film/trailer that ridicules the Prophet Mohammad and caused violent protests in Egypt and around the Muslim world in 2012.
A case had been filed in Egypt in 2013 over the video, but the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority appealed the lower courts ruling to block YouTube and the video remained available during the appeals process. Wire and local press reports say Saturdays decision is now final and cannot be appealed.
However, it remains unclear if the High Administrative Courts ruling will be enforced. A source on the ground tells Deadline that YouTube is still up and running today and points out that it would be difficult to block the video sharing site during the current holy month of Ramadan when TV programmings main business is derived from YouTube views. Deadline has reached out to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Cairo.
Mohamed Hamid Salem, a lawyer who filed the 2013 case, told Reuters the courts Saturday decision also ordered all links that broadcast the film be blocked.
Posted online in summer 2012 and rising to worldwide attention in September that year after Egyptian television aired certain segments, Innocence Of Muslims sparked violence and deadly rioting in more than 30 countries as well as calls for the death of its filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef who was jailed in the U.S. on probation violations after the video was posted. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia later filed in U.S. federal court to have the video removed from YouTube. She had also received death threats. Her case was dismissed in 2015 at her own request and that of YouTube parent Google.
The video also, for a time, was cited as one of the reasons for the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that saw Ambassador J Christopher Stevens and several others killed. U.S. officials later said it was not the cause.
Google previously restricted access to the video in certain countries, including Egypt, Libya and Indonesia.