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Egyptian court bans YouTube for a month

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

An Egyptian court ordered a one-month ban on YouTube on Saturday, after it said the video-sharing Web site had failed to remove an American-made anti-Islam video.

Cairo’s administrative court ruled in response to a suit filed by an independent Egyptian lawyer. Judge Hassouna Tawfiq, who presided over the case, said the ban would also apply to other Web sites that circulated the video, including, potentially, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

It was not clear when the ban would come into effect. Implementation of the ruling is left to Egypt’s prime minister and communications minister. The court’s decision can also be appealed.

“This is a temporary punishment, you could say, for these Web sites for participating in this,” Tawfiq said.

The video in question, titled “The Innocence of Muslims,” portrayed Islam’s prophet Muhammad as a fool and a womanizer and sparked violent protests across the Muslim world last September.

TIMELINE: Key events in Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

In November, an Egyptian court imposed death sentences on seven Egyptian Coptic Christians, including the filmmaker, along with Florida-based pastor Terry Jones, in connection with the film. Analysts interpreted the sentences as largely symbolic because all were tried in absentia.

It is unclear what public reaction the ban would trigger if it were enforced. Activists have used YouTube and social media sites to circulate video footage of protests and police brutality over recent months of political unrest. But only about 18 percent of Egyptians are Internet-users, according to a 2010 government survey.

In November, an Egyptian court ordered a ban on pornographic Web sites, but the government has had difficulty enforcing it.

Sharaf al-Hourani contributed to this report.

Abigail Hauslohner covers D.C. politics -- and the people affected by D.C. politics. She came to the local beat in 2015 after seven years covering war, politics, and corruption across the Middle East and North Africa. Most recently, she served as the Post’s Cairo Bureau Chief.

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