Kuwait has ordered local Internet service providers to block online video-sharing website YouTube over clips that could offend Muslims.
"Since the website displays the Koran in the form of songs sung with the oud (stringed instrument) ... and publishes offensive pictures of the Prophet Mohammad ... please proceed with immediate effect in blocking the website www.youtube.com," read a copy of a memo from the Ministry of Communications published on websites and blogs Monday.
The Ministry of Communications was not immediately available for a comment. The website could still be accessed in Kuwait on Monday. A search for the keyword “Kuwait” returned about 59,000 videos of all different kinds.
YouTube, a unit of the internet search engine Google, is the third most popular site in Kuwait, according to the internet monitoring site Alexa.
A source at one major telecommunication company in Kuwait, Fasttelco, confirmed receipt of the memo, according to a report published in Kuwait Times on Monday. "It's supposed to be blocked right now. But due to technical preparations the blocking may take until tomorrow [Monday]," the newspaper quoted the source as saying.
Islamist and tribal groups managed to increase their grip on parliament in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state's May elections with some deputies demanding Kuwaiti broadcasters show more religious content.
Website are often blocked in the Gulf, including pornographic ones, VOIP sites that allow users to make free telephone calls and user-generated content sharing sites like Flikr. The UAE blocked the popular photo-sharing website Flickr earlier this summer because its content was “inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates,” according to the message that appeared when trying to access the site.