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'Innocence of Muslims' Declared Extremist

A Grozny court ruled that the film “Innocence of Muslims” could destabilize Chechnya, which is majority Muslim. Above, a mosque in Grozny. Stanislav Gaiduk

A court in the Chechen capital of Grozny has declared extremist an anti-Muslim video that has sparked violent protests in North Africa and the Middle East.

Chechen press minister Murat Tagiyev told RIA-Novosti on Friday that the Leninsky District Court ruling echoed concerns expressed by many senior Russian officials about the potential for violence over the film in Russia, which has millions of Muslim citizens.

"A failure to take necessary measures to prevent the uncontrolled spread of a socially dangerous, provocative video that insults religious beliefs could cause serious negative consequences," Tagiyev said, summarizing the court's ruling.

The court noted that the film could destabilize Chechnya, the vast majority of whose citizens are Muslim, Tagiyev said. A number of Internet providers in Chechnya on Thursday blocked access to YouTube and several other websites on which a clip of the film was available.

Under Russian law, a work is banned across the country after being declared extremist by a single court.

The video clip, a crude film trailer made in the U.S. that portrays the Muslim prophet Muhammad as lecherous and selfish, has triggered violent demonstrations at U.S. embassies in countries including Egypt and Libya.

At the request of prosecutors, Internet providers in multiple regions including Omsk, Volgograd and the republic of Chechnya had in recent weeks blocked access to YouTube and other websites on which the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer was available.

Earlier this month Communications and Press Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said there would be no countrywide blackout of YouTube because of the film and that only the video itself would be blocked on the video-sharing site if declared extremist.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a ruling by a Grozny court declaring the film “Innocence of Muslims” extremist meant that the film was banned nationwide.

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