YouTube blocks anti-Islam video also in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia had earlier threatened to block YouTube if the video was not hidden

Google has restricted access in Saudi Arabia to a controversial movie trailer on YouTube that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, the company said Wednesday, taking the total number of countries where it has blocked the video to six.

The move by Google follows a threat by the kingdom, reported by the government-controlled Saudi Press Agency, to block the entire YouTube website if Google did not "veil all YouTube links containing the film."

Pakistan and Bangladesh have meanwhile said that they are blocking YouTube after Google did not reportedly agree to remove access to the trailer which has sparked off protests in many countries.

"We have clear community guidelines, and when videos breach those rules, we remove them," Google said in a statement on Wednesday. "In addition, 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."

YouTube is not localized in Pakistan and Bangladesh, though it is in Saudi Arabia, according to its website.

Google has so far blocked the video in five countries besides Saudi Arabia: Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The company finds that the trailer is clearly within its guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. It said it had restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia. ((The trailer was also blocked in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries, Google said last week.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed last week when a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by gunmen. U.S. embassies and consulates in some countries like Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Indonesia were also targeted in the protests against the trailer.

The U.S. government has said it has nothing to do with the video, which is said to have been filmed in the U.S. according to some reports. The U.S. does not and cannot stop individual citizens from expressing their views, White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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