A Moscow court on Monday banned as "extremist" a US-made anti-Islamic film that fed deadly protests across the Arab world but whose showing was backed by human rights supporters in Russia.
Moscow's Tverskoi District judge sided with prosecution arguments presented in court that the low-budget "Innocence of Muslims" production "promoted the rise of religious intolerance in Russia."
"The prosecution's motion has been satisfied," a court spokeswoman told AFP by telephone.
But liberal activists and some officials urged the authorities to back free expression and not use the controversy to further a clamp down on rights under Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia's human rights ombudsman testified at the hearing Monday that he was against the film's prohibition while a group of artists and liberal media personalities urged Putin not to be swayed by the global militant attacks on US targets.
"The darkest forces of global terrorism are trying to scare our civilisation and force us to accept their will," reads the open letter to Putin.
"Ban neither this film nor any other works of art that disturb religious extremists," it urged.