YouTube has blocked users in Libya and Egypt from watching a video mocking Muhammad that set off violent protests in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, it announced Wednesday.
In a statement, YouTube said the video would stay on its website but was being temporarily restricted in the two countries.
Though the film was clearly within its guidelines and is now widely available online, YouTube decided to restrict it “given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt,” it said.
“Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya,” the company concluded its statement.
YouTube users in Egypt who tried to access the video were met with a message saying, “This content is not available in your country due to a legal complaint. Sorry about that.”
The YouTube statement made no reference to any restrictions in Afghanistan, where government officials have reportedly tried to shut down access to YouTube to stop the video from being viewed. The Afghan government's information technology director, Aimal Marjan, told the Associated Press that authorities had temporarily blocked Afghans from reaching the site.
The video was uploaded in July, later dubbed into Arabic and circulated on Twitter by Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Christian activist living in the United States. It portrays the Islamic prophet as violent and sexually deviant.
Protests erupted Tuesday in Cairo and Benghazi over the video, said to have been made by an American who identified himself to reporters as Sam Bacile. The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and burned, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles and Reem Abdellatif in Cairo