Kholo BC and eight other reasons to lift the ban on YouTube now!

Published: March 1, 2014
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The ban is not about blasphemy. Its real purpose seems to be a calculated halt, so that the activities of our unscrupulous leaders are not exposed. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

The ban is not about blasphemy. Its real purpose seems to be a calculated halt, so that the activities of our unscrupulous leaders are not exposed. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE The ban is not about blasphemy. Its real purpose seems to be a calculated halt, so that the activities of our unscrupulous leaders are not exposed. DESIGN: ANUSHAY FURQAN/FILE

Just as the burning of a book is a sad sight, so is banning of resources of knowledge. It feels as if ideas contained in the treasure of enlightenment are vanishing, as pages turn to ash by the wicked work of flames.

Almost a year and six months have passed since the world’s largest video sharing website, YouTube, was banned by the information ministry, after a massive uproar from Muslims across the world took place against the excerpts of the blasphemous film The Innocence of Muslims.

The blanket ban on the site, however, has proved to be adverse in numerous ways and many students, companies and analysts have been the unintentional casualties of the ban.

Here are a few important reasons why YouTube ban should be lifted:

YouTube is used for educational purposes

YouTube is not just an entertainment portal; it is also used for research purposes. More than 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute. The videos also include lectures, tutorials and easy-to-learn concepts. The site runs an official channel, the YouTube EDU, which features some of our most popular educational videos on the internet. This ban is an inconvenience, as the website’s educational use has been greatly hindered.

To prove that government really doesn’t want an uninformed lot

The original excuse for the ban – that the website was hosting an anti-Islam video – can no longer be used as a justification, given that it can be accessed on other websites through proxy.

If the present government really wants to prove that it wants a well-informed nation, they should prove it. But if the rulers of this nation think otherwise, then they may keep the resources banned.

A well-informed nation does not make ‘good voters’ and it is perhaps this factor for which the government is so stringent about not lifting the ban.

Because democracy says so

I need to get this straight; we do not wish to regress to a dark age where a centralised authority controls all accesses to information. Retreating to such an era would essentially mean that we are no longer living in a democracy.

Rational thinking should be taken into account

Unfortunately, the Pakistani legal system is held hostage by the religious right, which makes it incapable to think rationally. Islam is a glorious and magnificent religion, and it has defined certain values very clearly, that we need to follow. But rational thinking along with keeping the religious right makes one take bold and productive steps.

One way or the other – They’re using proxies:

Even though the government has blocked many proxies, there are gazillions which are still open and YouTube can be accessed from there easily – which I know is illegal. Due to these proxies, the ban seems worthless.

So what’s the point of banning YouTube at all?

They can alternatively ban ungentlemanly URLs:

Countries like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt, India and Brazil have a localised YouTube implementation which Pakistan does not. Since the video wasn’t against US laws, YouTube was unable to facilitate Pakistan in the matter. As Pakistan does not have a local implementation, the only way to block access for Pakistan is to ban the website.

If the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) simply restricts access to the video itself, by blocking the various web pages (URLs) that link to it, the problem would suss out.

The PTA can also learn a thing or two from the Saudis. They have set up a very strict and efficient governing body which ensures that any websites containing even mildly sexual, pornographic or religiously offensive material is blocked without delay. In fact, it impossible to access a blocked site, even through a proxy server. Blocking an entire website is not always the right decision.

Because facts say so

Following are the results of a poll conducted in June, 2013 on the Express Tribune and the results clearly show that the majority wants the ban to be lifted.

 

Lastly, because the video is going to be taken down

Now that the Ninth United States Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Google to remove a blasphemous film from YouTube, it’s about time that the site was opened to public. As they say, it’s never too late to be what you might have been. The court has clearly defined that no civil liberty should be exercised or encouraged that hikes up violence and shakes out hatred among people.

And now, we see a rise in youth springing up again.

A few days back, a comedian and singer Ali Gul Pir, along with rapper Adil Omar, launched a new song called Kholo BC. The song serves as a youth initiative against state censorship in Pakistan.

The video has widely been shared on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #YouTubeKholoBC and #KholoBC. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t count video views, but according to insights, Kholo BC has reached 647,521 people on Facebook so far, with over 125,000 active clicks, 14,000 hits on Vimeo and 5,000 hits on YouTube, making it the most viral video in Pakistan so far this week.

This clearly shows that the youth – as they’re now writing songs about the blanket ban – are no longer willing to bear with state censorship.

Here is the video for the said song.

I want to clarify that I have high regards for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and I, like millions of other Muslims, cannot bear any blasphemous act in his honour. But shutting down the entire market due to some ignoramus yelling offensive words there seems somewhat wide off the mark.

And the ban has never been about protecting the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), come to think about it. Its real purpose seems to be a calculated halt, so that the activities of our unscrupulous leaders are not exposed.

It’s high time that YouTube ban is lifted.

We must raise our voice against this issue, because if not now, then when?

If not us, then who?

Tashféen Ahmed

Tashféen Ahmed

A student at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), he is a front-end web designer and developer. His interests include writing, horse-back riding, painting and playing rabab. He blogs at www.tashfeenism.com and tweets as @tashfene (twitter.com/tashfene)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.