The Bangladesh government has condemned a film mocking Islam as "reprehensible" in the wake of criticism at mass protests over its silent response.
In a statement issued late Saturday, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said the Innocence of Muslims, which was produced in the United States, "denigrates Islam and Prophet Mohammed" and "is not only offensive, but also reprehensible".
"Bangladesh is concerned that some have tried to defend such offensive material on the pretext of freedom of expression. Inciting hatred cannot be justified as freedom of expression," it added.
The statement comes after the country's secular government came under fire from Islamist groups for not banning the film on the internet and not being quick enough to condemn it.
About 10,000 protesters belonging to half a dozen Islamist outfits demonstrated against the film in Dhaka on Friday and tried to march to the US embassy before they were blocked by police.
Many of the demonstrators, including opposition leaders, had lashed the government for failing to condemn the movie which has sparked worldwide protests.
Around 90% of Bangladesh's 153 million population are Muslims