September 13, 2018 Special Announcements No. 659

YouTube Censors MEMRI, Removing – For 'Inappropriate Content' – MEMRI TV Clip Exposing Anti-Gay Statements By Sheikh Abu Abdillah In Queens, N.Y.

September 13, 2018
Special Announcements No. 659

A MEMRI TV clip posted on February 26, 2018 on the MEMRI TV YouTube channel exposed Sheikh Abu Abdillah Ismaeel making anti-gay statements in a Friday sermon at the Masjid Ahlul Quran Wa Sunnah mosque in Queens, N.Y. In the MEMRI TV clip, Sheikh said: "Satan slowly but surely is getting at the Muslims, trying to get our religion to change... either to become extreme bloodthirsty murderers... or to become fags." He continued: "As far as I am concerned, it's not politically incorrect, it doesn't go against any constitutional laws to call them a fag, a homosexual, a lowlife, a savage." People, he said, were trying "to take a Quranic verse and misconstrue it, to take a hadith and misconstrue it, to justify homosexuality, to justify terrorism, to justify murder, to justify stealing or violating people's property."

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YouTube: "Video Removed: Inappropriate Content"

On August 26, YouTube removed this MEMRI TV clip from the channel, posting the message "Video Removed: Inappropriate content."

YouTube also posted on the page a notification explaining that the video had been "flagged for review" – that is, by YouTube users – and that YouTube had subsequently "determined that it violates our guidelines." It added, "We've removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account" and warned: "If you receive three or more of one of the types of strikes listed above, we may have to disable your account."

MEMRI Appeals YouTube Decision To Remove Clip; YouTube Rejects Appeal

MEMRI appealed YouTube's decision to remove the clip, explaining that it is part of the research of the MEMRI Reform Project, which exposes hate speech including anti-LGBTQ sentiment and supports reformists who speak out against such hate speech.

This appeal was rejected by YouTube, which stated: "After further review of the content, we've determined that your video does violate our Community Guidelines and have upheld our original decision."

It should be noted that at the end of every MEMRI TV clip it is stated: "MEMRI is a non-partisan, independent research institute providing research, analysis, and translation of primary materials covering a wide range of issues, including terrorism and ideological trends in the Middle East. These video clips are provided as a public service to an international viewing audience to bridge the language gap and better educate and inform. Material about statements by terrorists and extremists is provide to alert the public to threats, and in no way constitutes an endorsement of such activities."

YouTube Removed MEMRI's Previous YouTube Channel – Which Had Over 60,000 Subscribers And Hundreds Of Millions Of Views

MEMRI's current YouTube channel has almost 3,000 subscribers and 700,000 views. MEMRI's previous YouTube channel, which had more than 60,000 subscribers and hundreds of millions of views, was terminated in July 2016; despite MEMRI's numerous appeals for information to resolve the outstanding issues and to regain access to the account, we were never successful in doing so.

An article published March 2, 2017 by Tablet magazine, "Why Is YouTube Punishing People Who Translate and Expose Anti-Semitism on Its Platform?" highlighted the termination of our YouTube account. It stated: "For years, YouTube has been taking down videos that translate and expose anti-Semitism and punishing those who post them. Perhaps the most notable victim of this censorship is MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute."

The article went on to describe the importance of MEMRI's work, saying: "MEMRI translates television and media from across the Middle East, highlighting both bigotry and those activists who seek to fight it." It also explains YouTube's flagging system and how an account can be terminated like MEMRI's was: "YouTube's system for identifying problematic content relies on users flagging and reporting allegedly objectionable videos. Site staff then sort through the reports and remove content at their discretion. Unfortunately, this process is easily gamed by those bigots and their sympathizers who don’t want MEMRI's material out there."

View the clip of Abu Abdillah Ismaeel here; read some of his statements from the clip below:

Abu Abdillah Ismaeel: "An imam, a gay imam, a fag, a homosexual – these words are all synonymous, as far as I am concerned. I don't need this politically correct… How? How? When this country was established, they weren't okay. Homosexuality wasn't okay. So as far as I am concerned, it is not politically incorrect, it doesn't go against any constitutional laws, to call them a fag, a homosexual, a lowlife, a savage. 

"This is what they were then. This is what they were back in the time of Lot, and this is what they will always be. Like it who likes it. Dislike it who dislikes it. Freedom of speech…

"We don't call to attack them – gay-bashing or any of those things. That is the responsibility of the rulers, of the governments around the world. If they don't do anything, we leave the affair to Allah, and we seek refuge in Allah from that. Other than that, it is not for any of us to try to take matters into their own hands. So I'm just letting the brothers know in advance in case anyone gets the wrong idea."

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