While violent demonstrations were the most obvious form of protest against the film that derides Prophet Mohammed, other angry Muslims were fighting a different battle as they called for getting back at the websites responsible for propagating the film, namely YouTube and Google.
YouTube had been the most popular among Arabs during the revolutions that swept several countries in the region. For revolutionaries, the video sharing website was the main channel they used to update the world on the developments of anti-regime protests in their respective countries. It was also a very important tool for documenting violations committed by state security bodies against peaceful protestors.
However, a drastic change took place following the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” a film mocking Islam, which parts of were posted on YouTube. Arabs are now calling for boycotting YouTube after the website’s administration refused to remove the film and therefore, they argued, took part in the anger that followed.
According to the initiators of this campaign, if YouTube had removed the film early, chances for violent protests could have been much less.
It is not certain, though, if this initiative will bear the desired outcome. YouTube registers more than 167 million views daily in the Arab world alone and every minute, an hour’s worth of videos is uploaded by Arab users.
Another camp calls for YouTube to respond to “The Innocence of Muslims” through making a series of videos that set right the falsities propagated in the movie, acquainting people with the truth about Islam.
Google, which owns YouTube, has similarly become an enemy and there have been calls for taking an action against it in several parts in the Arab world. For example, in Egypt a lawsuit was filed at the Administrative Court by two NGOs, the Egyptian Association for Legal Development and the Horizons of Development, against the prime minister and the ministers of telecommunications and investment, and Google Egypt and Middle East.
The two non-profit organizations called for closing down Google Egypt for inciting sedition through posting the movie, the Egyptian daily independent al-Wafd reported.
The lawsuit also called upon Google to issue a public apology for Muslims all over the world for insulting them by posting the movie and to pay $2 billion in compensation for the moral damages inflicted upon Egyptians and all Muslims.
According to the plaintiffs, Google violated its moral commitments to its users when it showed the video which is believed to desecrate the beliefs of more than a billion people across the world.
Shaarawi Abdel Baki, chairman of an Arab rights group, said the matter will be taken to an international level in order to make sure Google is duly penalized.
“If necessary we will go to the International Criminal Court and the Security Council and will take measures against every entity that took part in making and propagating the movie,” he said.
Abdel Baki accused Google of intentionally insulting Islam and Muslims because it refused a request by the American government to remove the film and insisted on its stance even after the violent reactions that followed.
“Google is to be blamed for this sedition that is tearing through the Muslim world,” he added.
Abdel Baki also argued that while Western countries accuse Muslims of terrorism, they are the ones who practice terrorism.
“This is the worst form of psychological terrorism not only for Muslims but for anyone with morals,” he concluded.