Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:28 pm (KSA) 17:28 pm (GMT)

Indonesia ends YouTube block after protests

Jakarta has blocked YouTube over "Fitna". (file)
Jakarta has blocked YouTube over "Fitna". (file)

Indonesia's main Internet providers said Friday they have restored access to YouTube and other sites carrying a controversial anti-Islam film following "overwhelming" protests from web users.

"Access to YouTube and several other sites has been re-opened after Internet providers received overwhelming protests from users," Heru Nugroho, of the Indonesian Internet providers' association, told AFP.

"We discussed the complaints with the ministry and they agree with us," he added. No comment was immediately available from the communications ministry.

The move comes just days after web providers in Jakarta blocked the sites at the government's request, sparking a storm of complaints. The government is facing accusations of censorship over the ban, which many small business owners say is affecting their livelihoods.

Internet providers said they would instead try block access to individual pages carrying the film, "Fitna."

Access to the popular video-sharing site YouTube and the social networking site MySpace were blocked on Tuesday following protests against the film, which intersperses images of terrorist attacks with quotes from the Quran.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists said the move amounted to censorship, comparing it to "destroying a restaurant to kill a fly," while the Jakarta Post in an editorial Friday called it "dumb and dangerous."

"Indonesia's commitment to freedom of expression and the right to information, both of which are guaranteed in the constitution, are now being put in doubt," the daily said.

Nugroho said many Indonesian small business owners were also affected by the blocking of YouTube and Multiply.com, a networking site.

"Many of our users use YouTube or Multiply for their business," he said. "We will block direct links to the web pages that have the film. It's the film we are concerned with, not YouTube."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has banned screenings of "Fitna" and barred the Dutch lawmaker behind it from entering Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

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