YouTube is refusing to take down the movie trailer that triggered deadly riots which led to the death on the American ambassador to Libya, despite its apparent violation of the Google-owned site’s own guidelines.
The video is a trailer for a low-budget American film that portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a simple-minded fraud and even a child molester. Any depiction of Mohammed is forbidden in Islam, and the clips set off riots across the Muslim world, including the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic staffers.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have both blocked all YouTube access in their countries in the hope of heading off further unrest, but YouTube told Fast Company that the offending videos would remain on the site:
“While we don’t comment on individual videos, what I can tell you is that on YouTube, people worldwide can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and legal manner, and this sometimes raises cultural and political issues. We have created Community Guidelines to set a global standard for our users. We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed. Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site.”
However, The Daily Dot points out that YouTube’s guidelines do specifically prohibit religious-based hate speech:
“We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view,” the guidelines read. “But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).” [emphasis added]
Whether the film constitutes religious hate speech or legitimate satire may be open to debate, but the film’s producer, Sam Bacile, 52, a California real estate developer whose YouTube channel hosts the clips, was quoted by the Associated Press saying that “Islam is a cancer, period.”