Afghan president cancels trip to Norway, bans YouTube amid concerns over anti-Islamic film
The following excerpt is taken from The Star.
The Afghan president cancelled his official visit to Norway amid concerns following Mideast riots over a film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, officials said Thursday. Hamid Karzai also talked to President Barack Obama and expressed condolences over the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.
President Karzai’s trip to Norway is to take place at a later date, said his spokesman, Aimal Faizi. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said the Afghan leader postponed the trip because he felt he needed to stay at home.
“The reason is that the president, in light of the serious events in some Arab countries in the past day, sees a need to be in Afghanistan,” said the Norwegian statement. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said he looks forward to receiving Karzai in Norway “at a later date.”
Karzai was to have travelled to Oslo late Wednesday to sign an agreement of strategic partnership.
Afghan authorities have ordered the YouTube website be shutdown “indefinitely” to stop Afghans watching Muhammad film, government sources told Reuters on Thursday.
The shutdown will begin some time Thursday, they said, adding it was ordered to prevent outbreaks of the violence seen in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.
According to Karzai’s office, the Afghan leader spoke by phone late Wednesday with Obama and conveyed his condolences for the violent killings of U.S. diplomats in Libya. He also discussed the “film and the insulting of holy Islamic values,” but the statement provided no other details.
Karzai has condemned the anti-Islam film as “inhuman and insulting” and made by “extremists.” On Wednesday, the government temporarily blocked access to YouTube to prevent people from watching the video until the website later took it down.
The Taliban have called on their fighters to avenge the film by increasing their attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.
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