Pakistan lifts restrictions on YouTube

On Tuesday, some 300 students rallied at a university in the central city of Multan, carrying banners denouncing Denmark, the United States and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf — the latest in a series of small protests held by Islamic students in Pakistan.

Umer Abbasi, a leader of the demonstrators, urged other Muslim countries to follow Pakistan in blocking offensive material on the Internet.

"If you look deeply, America can be seen behind all anti-Muslim moves around the world," Abbasi told the crowd, who later burned Danish and American flags.

While a raft of other videos featuring Wilders would remain visible to Pakistani Internet surfers, Mahmood said the one which was removed had been "totally anti-Quranic ... very blasphemous."

She said it promoted Wilders' upcoming movie, but provided no detail of its content.

Abdullah Riar, Pakistan's minister for information technology and telecommunications, said authorities worried that Islamic hard-liners would seize on the clip.

He said the cause of protecting free speech in Pakistan was better served by preventing confrontation between Muslims and the West than allowing the clip to be shown, despite the publicity generated by the temporary ban.

"We are already in the spotlight on the issue of intolerance and extremism and terrorism and this is something that somebody is doing by design to excite and insinuate Islamic sentiments," Riar said.

He said the knock-on effects were "very unfortunate. We have nothing against the YouTube site itself."

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