YouTube has blocked access to the trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" in Egypt and Libya, the video sharing site said Wednesday.
The shoddily made anti-Muslim film has been linked to violent uprisings in the two Middle Eastern countries, resulting in the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff this week.
Trailers for the film, which alleges that Muhammad was a false prophet with aberrant sexual habits, are still posted on the site in other countries. The site said the video does not violate its policies, but said it was motivated to limit access in parts of the world where violence is raging.
"We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions," YouTube said in a statement to TheWrap. "This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday's attack in Libya."
Doubts are being raised about what role, if any, the film has played in the chaos in Libya and Egypt.
Fox News is reporting that U.S. officials believe the attack in Libya may have been coordinated and was timed to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, not the film's trailer.
Moreover, questions are being raised about Sam Bacile, a man who identified himself to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal as the filmmaker behind "Innocence of Muslims." Steve Klein, a Riverside, Calif.-based Christian activist who was a consultant on the film, told the Atlantic that Sam Bacile is a pseudonym. Other biographical details about Bacile appear to be collapsing as well and there is a scant digital trail for the alleged writer and director.
The trailer was first uploaded to YouTube on July 2.