Egypt's National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) [official website, in Arabic] on Thursday appealed a court order banning [JURIST report] YouTube [official website] because it features the controversial film Innocence of Muslims [BBC backgrounder]. The film, which sparked violent protests throughout the Middle East last year, depicts [Telegraph report] the Prophet Mohammad as a sexual deviant. The NTRA argues that the court ruling is unenforceable [Reuters report] because it is impossible to shut down YouTube without affecting Google's Internet search, which would negatively impact Egypt's economy. The NTRA noted that while authorities have already taken steps to block the film within Egypt, only the US has the ability to shut down YouTube.
Innocence of Muslims has generated a great deal of political, religious and legal controversy. Last month an Egyptian court upheld [JURIST report] the death sentences of seven Coptic Christians and an American preacher on charges stemming from the film. In September an actress who claims she was duped into appearing in the film filed suit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] requesting the film be removed from YouTube. Earlier that same month the UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai [official website] condemned the violence [JURIST report] that erupted after the film's release. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged religious and political leaders [JURIST report] to encourage an end to the violence that followed the release of the film.