Kazakhstan Joins the Ban on Anti-Islam Film

Kazakhstan has joined a number of other countries in banning the controversial anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims.” On October 4, a court in Astana, the country's capital, declared [ru] the film “extremist” and ruled to ban the import and distribution of “The Innocence of Muslims” across Kazakhstan. Prior to the court ruling, the authorities had blocked access to the movie trailer on YouTube.

The film that many Muslims across the world view as offensive has been banned in Egypt, Libya, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Philippines. Among Kazakhstan's neighbors in Central Asia, as reported earlier by Global Voices Online, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan prohibited the distribution of the movie on their territories.

Although a series of violent bomb blasts attributed to Muslim extremists rocked the country in the past 12 months, indicating the growing influence of radical interpretations of Islam in this Central Asian nation, Kazakhstan has seen no angry riots or protests over “The Innocence of Muslims”.

In Kazakhstan, the latest country so far to ban the controversial film, Muslims comprise about half of the population. This image depicts the central mosque in Astana, the country's capital. Image by Flickr user Msykos (CC BY 2.0), uploaded June 6, 2008.

Many Internet users in the country support the court ruling. For example, commenting under a report about the ban on Tengrinews.kz website, an anonymous user wrote [ru]:

Правильно сделали, а то какой то отморозок выпустил фильм и мог довести до третьей мировой. Его запрет будет лучше для всех…

They've done a right thing. Some idiot produced the movie and could provoke the third world war. The ban is good for everyone…

Yet, some netizens suggest that there was no need to ban the film. Umka opined [ru] that Kazakhstanis were different from the nationals of those countries where the film had prompted angry demonstrations:

Никакой фильм меня не заставит выходить на улицу. Я знаю что это фильм…

No movie can cause me to take to the streets. I know that this is just a movie…

On the same website, another anonymous user proposed [ru] that the ban will make the film more popular by giving it higher exposure in the country:

Этот так называемый “фильм” – на него бы внимания никто не обратил… Так нет же – надо было на весь мир привлечь внимание запретами, чтобы и те, кому вообще пофигу – а таких в мире процентов 99 – обязательно посмотрели…

Nobody would have paid attention to this so-called ‘movie'… But what they've done is they drew global attention to the film by banning it and thus making sure that those who didn't care [about the movie] before, watch it…

The ban has also led some netizens in the country to focus on the film itself. Blogger Tenebrant likened [ru] “The Innocence of Muslims” to “a new form of trolling“, arguing that any reaction to the film should have been avoided:

Вообщем, я тут поразмышлял и понял, что это ни что иное, как новый тип троллинга. Вот сидит народ на всяких блог-платформах и от безделия и скуки пытается вызвать баттхерт своими откровенно тупыми комментариями, постами и высказываниями, а тут один чувак взял и затроллил треть мира.

I've been thinking and I've come to realize that this is nothing but a new type of trolling. Many people in general are spending time on blogging platforms, trying to cause butthurt by writing obviously stupid comments, posts, and statements out of idleness and boredom; and here you have one person who has trolled one-third of the world.

Others are thinking about the broader implications of the ban. Assel suggested [ru] that the court ruling to ban the film might be a prelude to further internet restrictions in the country:

Готовьтесь, теперь доступ к youtube перекроют =(

Get ready, they will now block access to YouTube =(

Kazakhstan's government blocks a number of websites it deems dangerous to the internal security of the country. It has also recently restricted religious freedoms in response to the rise of extremist Islam.

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