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Google Ordered to Take Down ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Film From YouTube

Image: Innocence of Muslims page on YouTube
A U.S. appeals court has ordered YouTube to take down the 'Innocence of Muslims' video. YouTube

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ordered Google Inc to remove from its YouTube video-sharing website an anti-Islamic film that had sparked protests across the Muslim world.

By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Google's assertion that the removal of the film "Innocence of Muslims" amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiff, Cindy Lee Garcia, had objected to the film after learning that it incorporated a clip she had made for a different movie, which had been partially dubbed and in which she appeared to be asking: "Is your Mohammed a child molester?"

In a statement, Google said: "We strongly disagree with this ruling and will fight it."

Cris Armenta, a lawyer for Garcia, said she is delighted with the decision.

"Ordering YouTube and Google to take down the film was the right thing to do," Armenta said in an email. "The propaganda film differs so radically from anything that Ms. Garcia could have imagined when the director told her that she was being cast in the innocent adventure film."

The controversial film, billed as a film trailer, depicted the Prophet Mohammed as a fool and a sexual deviant. It sparked a torrent of anti-American unrest among Muslims in Egypt, Libya and other countries in 2012.

That outbreak coincided with an attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. U.S. and other foreign embassies were also stormed in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous.

The court's ruling addressed control of the clip, not its contents, which YouTube determined didn't violate its standards.

Visitors to the video's page on YouTube on Wednesday got blacked-out screen with this message: "This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint."

— Reuters, The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.