The Jerusalem District Court rejected a petition by MK Talab el-Sana (Ra'am-Ta'al) on Thursday requesting that the controversial film, "Innocence of Muslims," produced in the U.S., be made inaccessible to people in Israel through the Internet. Judge Miriam Mizrahi decided to refrain from issuing an order to restrict access to the film through the YouTube website.
El-Sana, together with other Israeli-Arab political and religious leaders, requested that the YouTube page featuring the film be shut down, or, alternatively, that the page be blocked from access throughout the country.
Although the petitioners asked for an urgent hearing on the matter so that the court could issue a temporary order to prevent the film from being accessible on the Internet, Mizrahi said in her ruling that those who thought they would be offended by viewing the film should not search for it on the Internet. "Whoever does not look for the film will not find it, so the public who would be offended by the film can avoid seeing it," Mizrahi said.
The court is scheduled to continue to discuss the matter on Oct. 15, after both sides submit their detailed legal explanations. The petitioners, through attorney Kais Nasser, claimed, "The movie is extremely offensive, desecrates the image of the Prophet Muhammad in a racist manner, tramples his sanctity and name, and offends the honor and faith of more than a billion Muslims throughout the world and more than a million Muslims who are citizens of Israel."
According to the petition, publication of the film violates the penal code by offending the feelings of Muslims, incites racism and constitutes slander.
Attorney Hagit Bleiberg, who represented Google (owner of YouTube) in the case, pointed out that "No one in the world, and in Israel in particular, has recognized the Google search engine as a publisher. The film's creator is its publisher. It is he who uploaded the content. YouTube did not upload the film and neither did Google. It's a fact that the court did not find them responsible for it."
At the end of the session, El-Sana warned that violent protests may take place in Israel if access to the film is not blocked.
On Sept. 11, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staffers were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi by protesters angry over the film which they said ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad. After that incident, a wave of violent protests swept through Arab countries in light of the film's publication and repercussions from the film's anti-Muslim message have yet to abate in the Arab world.
Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress from Bakersfield, California, who had a small role in the anti-Islam film, told the Gawker website on Sept. 12 that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka "Sam Bacile"), the film's producer, initially said he was an Israeli real estate mogul but told her on set that he was actually Egyptian and spoke Arabic. Garcia said that after protests broke out in Libya and Egypt, she called Bacile up to express her outrage. When she asked why he made the film, she said he told her, "I'm tired of radical Islamists killing each other."
Garcia has since sued Nakoula and demanded that the film be removed from YouTube. She accused the producer of fraud, slander and violation of her privacy, and said her life was in danger due to her role in the film. A Los Angeles judge rejected her petition on Thursday, but Garcia, via her attorney, vowed to continue to pursue the matter.
Meanwhile, the chief editor of the satirical French weekly paper Charlie Hebdo was unapologetic and defiant on Sept. 19 over his decision to publish drawings considered offensive to Muslims. Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who publishes under the pen name "Charb,” has been under police protection for the past year.
"Muhammad isn't sacred to me. I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law," Charbonnier told The Associated Press.
He said he had no regrets and felt no responsibility for any violence. "I'm not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs," he said. "We've had 1,000 issues and only three problems, all after front pages about radical Islam.”
On Nov. 2, 2011 a fire caused serious damage at the headquarters of the newspaper which had "invited" the Prophet Muhammad as a guest editor throughout the week. A police official said the fire broke out at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and the cause remains unclear. No injuries were reported in the incident.