Google in hot water over Mohammad clip

Last updated 10:25 15/09/2012
Tunisia protests
Reuters
TUNIS: Protesters flee as police set off tear gas around the US Embassy in Tunis.

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Google has rejected a request by the White House to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.

Fury about the film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer, has seen protesters attacking US embassies and burning American flags as the Pentagon rushed to bolster security at its missions.

Google said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it in Egypt and Libya, where US embassies have been stormed.

On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in a fiery siege on the embassy in Benghazi.

Google said was further restricting the clip to comply with local law rather than as a response to political pressure.

"We've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries," the company said. "This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007."

White House officials had asked Google to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube's terms of service. But the internet giant said the video was within its guidelines.

US authorities were also investigating whether the film's producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year old Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Southern California, had violated terms of his prison release. Basseley was convicted in 2010 for bank fraud and released from prison on probation last June.

DEADLY RAGE

In Tunis, at least three people were killed and more than two dozen wounded, state television said after police gunfire near the US embassy in the city that was the cradle of last year's Arab Spring uprisings for democracy.

At least one person died in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, a doctor said, after some of thousands of protesters had leaped into the US embassy.

As US military drones faced Islamist anti-aircraft fire over Benghazi, about 50 marines landed in Yemen a day after the US embassy there was stormed. For a second day in the capital Sanaa, police battled hundreds of young men around the mission.

In Khartoum, wider anger at Western attitudes to Islam also saw the German embassy overrun, with police doing little to stop demonstrators who raised a black Islamist flag. Violence at the US embassy followed protests against both Washington and the Sudanese government, which is broadly at odds with the West.

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The wave of indignation and rage over the film coincided with Pope Benedict's arrival in Lebanon for a three-day visit.

The protests present US President Barack Obama with a new foreign policy crisis less than two months before seeking re-election and tests Washington's relations with democratic governments it helped to power across the Arab world.

He was at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington to greet a flight bringing home remains of the four dead from Benghazi.

It also emerged that Libya had closed its airspace over the second city's airport for a time because of heavy anti-aircraft fire by Islamists aiming at US reconnaissance drones flying over the city; Obama vowed to bring the ambassador's killers to justice.

The closure of the airport prompted speculation that the US was deploying special forces in preparation for an attack against the militants who were involved in the attack.

A Libyan official said the spy planes flew over the embassy compound and the city, taking photos and inspecting locations of radical militant groups who are believed to have planned and staged the attack on the US consulate.

There were protests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

- AP and Reuters

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