The United Arab Emirates has blocked an Israeli cartoon on the video sharing website YouTube due to content that mocks Muslims and insults the UAE, the country's two internet service providers announced on Wednesday.
The controversial cartoon, called Ahmed and Salim, is a set of satirical skits that center on the title characters who are more interested in Western pop culture than their father's aspirations of having them die as martyrs by carrying out attacks on "filthy Jews or Americans," which the boys continue to fail at.
The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said the decision to block the animated movie came after the organization received several complaints about the content that was deemed to be extremely insulting to Islam.
"We informed the two UAE internet service providers Etisalat and Du of the decision and they blocked the movie," a TRA spokesman told Al Arabiya. "Now users who try to see it will get an 'access denied' message."
The skits are spoken in gibberish but are subtitled in Hebrew and English and a laughing audience can be heard in the background. One of the two young boys is dressed in traditional Gulf attire and the other wears a balaclava covering his face.
The UAE flag is shown in several scenes and in one of the scenes the boys are tasked with blowing up an Israeli bus but decide to get some ice-cream instead, when they return they mistakenly plant a bomb on a UAE-flagged bus.
UAE-based activists launched a campaign on the internet calling for a complete ban on YouTube because it regularly allows content that insults Islam and Arabs.
But a TRA spokesperson told the Khaleej Times newspaper: “We have given choice to the Internet users in the country and not blocked the web site entirely. Adult content on the web site that is clearly against the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the UAE will automatically be blocked."
Etisalat, one of the two internet service providers in the UAE, said it received a notice from the TRA to block the skit, which had caused a stir amongst activists in the country.
"Now all internet subscribers in the UAE cannot access the movie," Etisalat Vice President, Ahmed Bin Ali, told Al Arabiya.
Last year a French Jewish group announced it was suing YouTube over what it called an "anti-semitic" clip showing a host of Jewish public figures to the soundtrack of a song recorded before World War II, called "Rebecca's wedding," which describes the guests at a Jewish wedding as dirty, rude and dishonest.
(With translation from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)