YouTube Video Sparks Riots In Benghazi, Libya, Leads To U.S. Embassy Workers' Deaths

A trailer for a film that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a philanderer is said to be the cause of the violent riots in Libya that claimed the lives of four embassy workers. J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, was at his country's consulate in the city of Benghazi when it was stormed by protesters firing guns and RPGs.

The film's producer, a real estate developer named Sam Bacile, has gone into hiding from his home in California. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, he said he regarded Islam as a "cancer" and that his film was to be seen as a political statement.

Although uploaded to YouTube two months ago, the original version of the trailer has had only about 20,000 views. Bacile, however, says he has no idea who dubbed a version of the film into Egyptian Arabic. Following its showing on Egyptian TV, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was also breached, its flag, flying at half mast to commemorate the 9/11 attacks, torn down.

Fast Company contacted YouTube for comment, and to find out whether it would be taking Bacile's video down. "While we don't comment on individual videos," a spokesperson wrote in an email, "what I can tell you is that on YouTube, people worldwide can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and legal manner, and this sometimes raises cultural and political issues. We have created Community Guidelines to set a global standard for our users. We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed. Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site."

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