Egypt ministry appeals against order to block YouTube

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Image caption YouTube blocked access to the film in Egypt, Libya, Indonesia, India and Saudi Arabia

Egypt's telecoms ministry has refused to block access to YouTube and has filed an appeal to reverse a court order asking it to do so.

Last week, a judge ordered a block on access to the site for 30 days for hosting of an anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims, in 2012. The film sparked anger across the Muslim world.

YouTube blocked access to the video in Egypt last September after widespread riots.

A rights group also filed an appeal.

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression in Egypt (AFTE) called the verdict "collective punishment of all YouTube and Google service users".

The group said: "Banning these websites will deprive internet users from the right of expressing themselves on those sites as well as depriving them of an important means of expression."

The country's telecoms ministry cited high technical costs when it said it could not block access to YouTube.

It added that could not legally monitor the content of social media websites.

Image caption Protests are continuing in the Muslim world, including in Pakistan

Widespread protests

The 14-minute-long video, which was made in the US, was first uploaded to the video-sharing site in July last year.

In September, a version dubbed into Arabic appeared, and spread across the web, sparking widespread protests in the Middle East, North Africa and Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots.

Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Google, which owns YouTube, rejected a request from the White House to remove the film from the video-sharing site, but blocked access to it in Libya, Egypt, Indonesia, India and Saudi Arabia.

A Google spokesperson told the BBC that the company worked "hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions.

"This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country may be offensive or illegal elsewhere.

"The authorities in Egypt have notified us of individual videos that they believe are illegal and, after a thorough review, we have blocked access to them on the Egyptian version of YouTube."

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