KUALA LUMPUR – (AFP) – Google has begun barring access in Malaysia to an anti-Islamic film that has sparked fury across the Muslim world after the country’s Internet regulator lodged an official complaint.
The low-budget movie, entitled “Innocence of Muslims“, has angered followers of Islam for its mocking of the Prophet Mohammed, and for portraying Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
A spokesman for video-sharing site YouTube, owned by internet giant Google, told AFP on Monday that it began restricting access to clips of the privately-produced film Sunday, in line with its community guidelines.
“When videos breach those rules, we remove them. Where we have launched YouTube locally and we are notified that a video is illegal in that country, we will restrict access to it after a thorough review,” he said.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was reported to have asked Google Saturday to remove clips of the controversial film, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christians in the United States, from YouTube.
Some extracts of it were still available on the video-sharing website on Monday but several other clips had been blocked to users in the Muslim-majority country.
Google has also denied access to the videos in Indonesia, Libya, Egypt and India.
In cities across the Muslim world protesters have vented their fury at the amateur film by targeting symbols of US influence ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains.
The US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other US officials were killed last week in an attack by suspected Islamic militants on the US consulate in Benghazi in protest against the film. A total of 17 people have died in violence so far.
Muslims held demonstrations across Malaysia on Friday, calling for the United States to prevent distribution of the film they said was part of a plot by “Christian extremists”.
Cabinet ministers have reportedly also demanded the film be taken offline and condemned YouTube for being “insensitive” and “oblivious to the tumult it has caused”.