Pakistan lifts YouTube curbs over video clip
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's telecommunications regulator said yesterday it had lifted restrictions imposed on YouTube over an anti-Islamic video clip, but rejected blame for a cut in access to the website in many countries over the weekend.
The authority told Pakistani Internet service providers to restore access to the site yesterday afternoon after the removal of a video featuring a Dutch lawmaker who has said he plans to release a movie portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.
Officials here have described the YouTube clip as "very blasphemous" and warned that it could fan religious fanaticism and hatred of the West in Pakistan, where the government already faces a growing Islamic insurgency.
But Pakistan says it did not want to interfere with access to YouTube outside Pakistan.
"We are not hackers. Why would we do that?" Shahzada Alam Malik, head of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, told AP Television News. YouTube's wider problems were likely caused by a "malfunction" elsewhere, he said.
The lawmaker said his film criticizing the Koran will be completed this week and criticized Pakistan for its moves to block the clip.
"It's far from a true democracy," the lawmaker, Geert Wilders, said. "A real democracy must be able to bear some criticism."
He said by phone that his short film is in the final stages of editing.
Telecommunication Authority spokeswoman Nabiha Mahmood said attempts to access the offending clip yesterday afternoon brought up only a message explaining that it had been removed on ethical grounds.
She said the telecom regulator had posted a complaint through the website - a facility open to any registered user - but had not been in contact with the administrators of YouTube.com, which is owned by Google Inc.
The authority wanted to restrict the site only in Pakistan but the move inadvertently cut access for most of the world's Internet users for up to two hours on Sunday, highlighting the vulnerability of the Internet.
Spokesman Ricardo Reyes said YouTube was pleased to confirm that the site was again accessible in Pakistan.
YouTube said Monday the cut was caused by a network in Pakistan. Reyes would not comment further on the cause of the global outage.