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New French Muhammad cartoons inflame prophet film tensions (+video)

After worldwide protests, some of them deadly, over an amateur film mocking the Prophet Muhammad, a French magazine now seeks to make Muslims even more angry.

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Matthew Olsen, director of the U.S. government's National Counterterrorism Center, branded the Benghazi assault a "terrorist attack" and said officials were examining the possibility that individuals involved in the attack may have links to al Qaeda, and particularly the affiliate group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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International debate

The furore has emerged as an issue in the U.S. presidential election campaign and sparked international debate over free speech, religion and the right to offend. Many Muslims consider any representation of Allah or the Prophet Mohammad blasphemous.

In Los Angeles, an actress who appeared in the video filed a lawsuit against a Coptic Christian man linked to the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, accusing him of fraud and slander and asking that the film's trailer be removed from the Internet.

It was the first known civil lawsuit connected to the film that has circulated online as a 13-minute trailer, including under the title "Innocence of Muslims."

The actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, also named Google Inc and its YouTube unit as defendants. Garcia's lawsuit stated that she thought she was appearing in a desert adventure film, not a "hateful" production about the Muslim prophet.

The United States has condemned the content of the video while defending the right to free speech, and took a similar line on the French cartoons.

"We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory. But we've spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our constitution," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

"In other words, we don't question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it."

In the Lebanese city of Sidon, around 10,000 people joined a march organised by the Shi'ite group Hezbollah to protest against the film and the cartoons, shouting "Enough humiliation!" and "Death to America! Death to Israel!".

In Egypt, Essam Erian, acting head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters: "We reject and condemn the French cartoons that dishonour the Prophet and we condemn any action that defames the sacred according to people's beliefs."

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