WASHINGTON — Google is refusing a White House request to take down an anti-Muslim clip on YouTube, but is restricting access to it in certain countries.
YouTube said in a statement Friday that the video is widely available on the Web and is "clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube."
The short film "Innocence of Muslims" denigrates Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. It played a role in igniting mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East. And it has been blamed for playing a role in violence in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three others were killed though the exact cause of the attacks is under investigation.
U.S. and Libyan officials are investigating whether the protests in Libya were a cover for militants, possibly al-Qaida sympathizers, to carry out a coordinated attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and kill Americans. Washington has deployed FBI investigators to try and track down militants behind the attack.
While the protests intensified over the video, YouTube blocked access to the clip in Libya and Egypt. YouTube cited "the very sensitive situations" in those two countries. Later YouTube also blocked access to the video in India and Indonesia after their governments told Youtube the video broke their laws.
The controversy underscores how some Internet firms have been thrust into debates over the limits of free speech.