Google Executive Arrested as Brazil Bans Anti-Muslim Film

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Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/GettyImages

Pakistani activists take part in a protest against an anti-Islam film at Karachi on September 26, 2012.

The trailer for an anti-Islam film released on YouTube earlier this month has been banned by a Brazilian court in Sao Paulo. Judge Gilson Delgado Miranda argued that the case “juxtaposed freedom of expression” with the need to protect people from “action that might incite religious discrimination,” as a  report by Reuters put it. The decision was made a few hours after the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff spoke at the U.N. General Assembly in New York of the “Islamaphobia” spreading throughout Western countries. Outbreaks of violence have occurred worldwide since the release of the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ trailer.

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Tuesday also saw an order for the arrest of Google’s most senior executive in Brazil, Fabio Jose Silva Coehlo. Judge Falvio Peren of the Mato Grosso do Sul region ordered Coehlo’s arrest in response to a video on YouTube — a site owned by Google — which made negative remarks about a local mayoral candidate. Google ignored the order to remove the video and is now looking to appeal the decision. It claims not to hold responsibility over any content uploaded by a third party.

Google opened its first Brazilian office in 2005 and often has to deal with questions of freedom of expression on its sites, including YouTube. The company’s stated policy is that Google works to “defend the Internet as a free and open platform for information, communication and innovation.” However, its ‘Hate Speech’ clause prohibits the distribution of “content that promotes hatred or violence towards groups of people based on their race, religion (…) or sexual orientation.”

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The Brazilian Internet service provider Embratel has been ordered to block YouTube in the city of Campo Grande for a period of 24 hours.