Google’s YouTube service is under fire across the Muslim world after several governments blocked the site outright after the web giant refused to remove or restrict access to a video uploaded by a US filmmaker ridiculing the Prophet Muhammed.
The 13 minute video, a trailer for an amateurish film called the Innocence of Muslims, quickly gained notoriety last week after rioting broke out in Egypt and Libya to protest its content. The Libyan riot is linked to the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and several other diplomats.
A female suicide bomber blew herself and nine foreigners up in Kabul on Tuesday in an attack motivated by the provocative video, the Wall Street Journal says.
The White House initially urged Google to take action but the firm resisted, claiming the clip did not contravene its rules on hate speech.
"This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube,” it said.
However, Google bowed to pressure at the end of last week by “temporarily restricting access” to it in Egypt and Libya. The firm also acceded to local laws by making it hard for viewers in India, Indonesia and Malaysia to watch the film.
Saudi Arabia became the latest country to force Google into complying with local laws and blocking the offending video on Tuesday, according to AP.
In other countries where Google believes local laws do not compel it to take action, such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the governments themselves have acted over the past couple of days to block the site outright.
The firm is now facing assault from all sides, with free speech advocates claiming it has bowed too quickly to censorship requests from some governments, while government officials in nations that have blocked the site clearly taking a dim view of its failure to delete the film. ®