Russia Wants to Block YouTube over Mohammed Video, Testing Its New Censorship Laws

Several Russian politicians are threatening to ban YouTube if the video is not removed

Russia is now threatening to ban YouTube, the entire site, over the silly Innocence of the Muslims video that has sparked a lot of controversy and violence.

You'd understand it being blocked in Muslim countries or countries with a large Muslim population, but Russia is not the first that comes to mind in either case.

Granted, Russia does have a large Muslim minority, it's the second biggest religion in the country. But this isn't about religion and it isn't even about preventing violence.

It's about the Russian government asserting its power and it's about the new anti-Internet law that was recently approved and which is set to go in effect in early November.

Already, Russian communication minister Nikolay Nikiforov warns that YouTube could be blocked over the video. Once the law comes into pass, the site could be banned if Google refuses to remove the video.

Already, there are several voices in Russia asking for the video to be taken down. The consumer rights watchdog has already recommended that ISPs block the video.

The Prosecutor General's Office wants the video to be labeled as "extremist" so it can be banned in the country. This came at the urging of Senator Ruslan Gattarov who blamed the video for the violence in the Middle East and North Africa.

While the worry over the sensibilities of the Muslims is touching, Russia has a clear reason why it wants the video blocked.

It's making a point that its censorship of the internet and its attempts to control communications are all for the best and not just to stamp out the last vestiges of an opposition which has come to rely almost exclusively on the web in a country with no free press.

What's ironic is that YouTube and the US itself is setting itself up for this kind of censorship. As more groups in the US push for more control of the internet, oppressive regimes like the one in Russia, China not to mention others like Iran, are using those moves as justifications of their own.

The logic is: if YouTube (Google, Facebook, etc.) can block one type of content, why not another? "Google deletes child pornography, unlike other websites. This film is similar to child pornography, but relates to a huge number of Muslims. Their feelings are insulted in the same manner," Senator Gattarov said.

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