JAKARTA, Indonesia – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has criticised the circulation of anti-Islamic materials via YouTube and social media sites, saying "blasphemy" had provoked Muslims to attack innocent victims who were not responsible for the content.
He was speaking Thursday (September 13th) following a mob assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others died.
"This we regret because there are two different things – the first being blasphemy, and the second being the consequences for diplomatic staff in the country," Yudhoyono said, noting that the slain diplomat and consular staff members were not connected with a controversial video that angered many Muslims.
Under the Geneva Convention, countries are obliged to protect diplomats, the president said in comments quoted by the daily Republika.
Indonesian officials, meanwhile, called on YouTube to block the amateur-produced video so it cannot be seen in the country.
"We demand that YouTube block the 'Innocence of Muslims' videos from being watched in Indonesia," Communications and Information Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto told AFP.
"We are also working with Internet service providers here to block access," he said. "We are still in talks with YouTube management and believe they will co-operate," he added. “The film certainly is offensive... and has upset Indonesian Muslims. We don’t wish for anyone to be provoked by it and for violence to break out here."
So far, there has been no trouble in Indonesia, where most of the 240 million population practises a moderate form of Islam.
Meanwhile, security is being stepped up near US embassies around the region as a precaution. In Bangkok, police are on heightened guard around the Lumpini Park area near the embassy, Deputy Metropolitan Police Chief Parinya Chansuriya said Thursday (September 13th), according to The Bangkok Post.
Flags at the embassy in Bangkok and the consulate in Chiang Mai are flying at half-staff in honour of the slain US personnel, GMA News reported.
Security has also been tightened at the American embassy in Manila. Concrete barriers have been added and additional personnel deployed to guard the embassy premises, according to Radio DZBB.
AFP reported that the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is urging Americans to avoid large crowds and noted the potential for unrest around Friday prayers.
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