A Chechen court ruled the American anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” to be extremist, according to the Minister of National Policy, Press and Information Murat Tagiyev, which could set the stage for a national ban.
Under the law, any ruling passed by a Russian court on extremist material applies nationwide, though individual courts may challenge the decision with the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter.
"The film tells the story of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions in a distorted and insulting manner,” said Tagiyev. “Therefore, we turned to the Leninsky district court to recognize this movie as extremist with the potential for inflaming sectarian and ethnic hatred on religious grounds.”
The film may cause “destabilization of the political situation in the region, most of whose population is Muslim,” he added.
Mobile content providers in the North Caucasian republic also limited access on Thursday to YouTube, where the video was originally posted.
Moscow’s Tverskoy Court is set to consider a ban on the film on October 1.
Protests against the film were reported yesterday in both the North Caucasus and in Ukraine’s Crimea republic, which is home to a minority Muslim Tatar population.
The North Caucasus has battled with Islamic extremism for years, with a separatist insurgency staging frequent attacks on security forces in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, among other republics.