Afghanistan bans YouTube to block anti-Muslim film

KABUL Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:27pm IST

An Afghan man browses the YouTube website at a public internet cafe in Kabul September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

An Afghan man browses the YouTube website at a public internet cafe in Kabul September 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan banned the YouTube website on Wednesday to stop Afghans watching a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad that sparked protests in North Africa and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

"We have been told to shut down YouTube to the Afghan public until the video is taken down," Aimal Marjan, general director of Information Technology at the Ministry of Communications, told Reuters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the film, in which Mohammad is portrayed as a philanderer and a religious fake, saying its makers had done a "devilish act" and that insulting Islam was not allowed by freedom of speech.

U.S. pastor Terry Jones, whose plans to burn the Koran triggered deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010, said he had promoted the film, called "Innocence of Muslims".

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed as they rushed away from a consulate building in Benghazi, stormed by al Qaeda-linked gunmen. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

Marjan declined to say if the order to close YouTube in Afghanistan was to prevent violence or to protect his countrymen from being offended.

The accidental burning of Korans at a U.S. base near Kabul in February drew thousands of protesters to the streets across Afghanistan for weeks and dozens of people were killed.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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