Google rejects White House request to pull Mohammad film clip

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:04pm EDT

A visitor is seen at the You Tube stand during the annual MIPCOM television programme market in Cannes, southeastern France, October 3, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

A visitor is seen at the You Tube stand during the annual MIPCOM television programme market in Cannes, southeastern France, October 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.

The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where U.S. embassies have been stormed by protestors enraged over depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer.

On Tuesday, the U.S. 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 earlier on Friday to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube's terms of service. The guidelines can be viewed here

Google said on Wednesday that the video was within its guidelines.

U.S. authorities said on Friday that they were 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.

(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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Comments (49)
This crazy people are dying around the world and google refuses to take this film down at the request of white house, something does not make sense here. The world’s most powerful country has no control over “google’s” posts on youtube? This is truly repugnant!

Sep 14, 2012 6:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Welred wrote:
I understand the need to “soothe the savage beasts,” but someone had better champion the right of free speech soon in this debacle before we all become apologists for religious extremism. Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental bedrocks of American culture, and I have been shocked at how quickly we have abandoned it in the face of muslim violence. Where are the liberal champions of free speech that we see every day in America?? The freedom to speak one’s mind must be protected and brave people must provide that protection. And it is particularly disturbing speech that we must champion, as it is easy to tolerate the speech that everyone agrees with. In the US, we have spent millions of dollars to protect the Klu Klux Klan when it marched in small towns across the country. The content of the video that sparked this barbaric, uncivilized reaction shouldn’t even be a factor in the debate — it’s irrelevant. In a civilized nation, we protect the right of bigots and idiots to speak almost anything they like. We fight ignorant and idiotic speech with…more speech! Not with unhinged, unthinking mob violence. Not with murder. Not with crazed chanting that “god” ordered the mob to murder. We better start understanding that this is nothing but a free speech issue and has nothing to do with religious freedom — if we don’t, we’ve already lost.

Sep 14, 2012 6:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Aeandevil wrote:
To me this definition of censorship needs to be redefined. As youtube includes videos that promote racism and bigotry of all types to censor this video would begin a slippery slope along the lines of SOPA and PIPA. The white house’s request being denied by google is a big win in my book. This shows despite political pressure and violence throughout the middle east corporations still hold the upper hand. That the white house would ask this leads me to believe they are not prepared for any eventuality if in the advent of this event they make a public plee to remove a clip. I wonder how Christians would react if placed in a similar situation but as western civilization has been redefined by attacks against their religion I do not believe the reaction to be as wide spread. Instead of declaring a new unholy war in the middle east perhaps the question should be asked. Are you willing to send troops into hostile territory at the whim of a domestic terrorists terrible propaganda?

Sep 14, 2012 6:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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