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Google Ordered to Take Down Anti-Islam Movie

United States appeals court orders YouTube to take down the "Innocence of Muslims" film that sparked protests in the Muslim world.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/27/2014, 4:12 AM

Google
Google
Reuters

A United States appeals court on Wednesday ordered YouTube to take down an anti-Islamic movie that triggered protests in the Muslim world, after an actress alleged she had been duped into appearing in it, AFP reported.

The 2012 appearance of "Innocence of Muslims" on Google's video-sharing site provoked deadly violence, but the current legal case against it relates only to the concerns of one of its stars, the report noted.

American actress Cindy Lee Garcia brought a lawsuit claiming she was tricked into appearing in the film, without realizing its provocative anti-Muslim slant, and has received death threats as a result of it.

A lower court refused to grant an injunction forcing Google to remove the film while her case goes forward, but on Wednesday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision.

"While answering a casting call for a low-budget amateur film doesn't often lead to stardom, it also rarely turns an aspiring actress into the subject of a fatwa,” the judge said, according to AFP.

"But that's exactly what happened to Cindy Lee Garcia when she agreed to act," he wrote in the 37-page ruling.

The judge ruled that Garcia had established she could suffer "irreparable harm" if the film was not taken down "because she was subject to death threats."

The amateurish movie, which depicted the Muslim prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant, triggered a wave of violent protests that left dozens dead in September 2012.

Google, which refused to take the video down arguing that it would violate its freedom of speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, did not immediately react to Wednesday's ruling.

Garcia was paid about $500 for three-and-a-half days of filming on the movie, which had the working title "Desert Warrior," after being cast by producer Mark Basseley Youssef, who had a variety of pseudonyms.

"Desert Warrior" never materialized, and Garcia only realized what had become of the footage when she saw "Innocence of Muslims" on YouTube.

Garcia asked eight times for the film be taken down, but Google refused to comply so she applied for a restraining order seeking removal of the film from YouTube, claiming that it infringed her copyright in her own performance, reported AFP.

Youssef was jailed in November 2012 for breaching the terms of his probation for a previous offense by using a series of pseudonyms including Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Sam Bacile.

He was released last year. In November he told the Hollywood Reporter that he was seeking partners to make a new movie and a TV show about the roots of Islamic terrorism.

As the protests over “Innocence of Muslims” continued, terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

At first, the Obama administration insisted that the attack in Benghazi was a “spontaneous reaction” to the “Innocence of Muslims” film. This was later proven wrong when it was revealed that Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were behind the attack.