A Moscow court has ruled that the offensive 'Innocence of Muslims' film against Islam contains extremist material, banning it nationwide, Russia Today news website reported Monday.
The court convened after a case was filed by the Prosecutor-General's office, calling for the movie to be banned across Russia. According to Russian laws, any content can be legally classified as 'extremist' if prosecutors present sufficient evidence to make their case. After such a ruling, sharing the content also becomes a crime.
Upon presenting their case to court, prosecutors said they believe the movie incites religious hatred, thus "propagating religious intolerance in Russia."
The judge watched the controversial video, and called experts on culture, history and religion to testify, before delivering a verdict.
But while all the experts agreed the movie should be banned, human rights groups fear this could lead to unnecessary censorship of content.
Deputy head of Human Right Watch in Moscow Tatyana Lokshina said she has no doubt the movie is offensive to believers. But banning it completely, according to Lokshina, is contradictory to the concept of free speech.
The short film, insulting Mohammad (PBUH), the Holy Prophet of Islam, has also been banned by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sudan. YouTube access in these countries has been blocked until the film is removed, according to official statements.
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