Controversial YouTube Video Leads to Riots


Dan Parker, Associate Editor

Almost two hundred thousand videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. The website has become a center for individuals to exercise their first amendment. YouTube has hosted some controversial videos in the past, but it seems a simple video has never had as much of a drastic and chaotic effect as the one uploaded by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula on July 2, 2012. A satirical and sacrilegious takeoff on the prophet Muhammed, “The Innocence of Muslims”, has left over 50 people dead, including a United States ambassador.

The near 14-minute film depicts the “violent nature” and “double standards” of the religion of Islam, as well as depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammed as a homosexual child molester. Although the video was uploaded in July, the video was not translated into Arabic until September, when the deadly riots began. The riots found their origin in Libya, where the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi was burned to the ground. Among the deaths in this assault was United States ambassador Chris Stevens, a man who President Obama says was a “courageous and exemplary representative of the United States.” Libya’s deputy prime minister Mustafa Abushagur released a statement concerning the ambassador’s death, saying that he condemned the “cowardly act of attacking the US consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens,” and that he would initiate a manhunt for the rioters responsible for his murder. On the same day, violent crowds formed in Peshawar, Pakistan’s largest city, and in a very dangerous demonstration that would ensure coverage by American media, at least nineteen people fell dead, along with hundreds injured. But the YouTube video didn’t only provoke attacks in the streets. In the last week of September, six major American banks were victims of the hacker group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters. The websites and data of Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and PNC were all temporarily shut down by the group, causing heavy blackouts and delays in the banking world.

One may wonder why any actor would be a part of a film that could cause such disaster, but according to the actors, they had no clue what the director’s true intention was. One actor told reporters that they were told they were casted in an action film titled “Desert Warrior”, and that the lines in the film concerning the prophet Muhammed and Islam were dubbed over the actors’ dialogue after filming was completed. Since the riots, actors from the film have issued lawsuits against director Nakoula and have tried as hard as possible to get YouTube to remove the film from their website. Despite numerous lawsuits, Los Angeles judge Luis Lanvin has ruled that the film will remain on YouTube.

“The Innocence of Muslims” may be the most controversial video ever uploaded to Never before has one video caused such chaos throughout the world, and it makes one wonder; is a short film really worthy of causing global turmoil?