Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke out Friday against the makers of an American-made film that mocks Islam, saying it was "a terrible idea" but backing US free speech rights.
Romney said it was wrong for producers of "Innocence of Muslims," the crude film at the center of many anti-American protests that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa, to put out a movie that would offends peoples' faith.
"I think the whole film is a terrible idea," Romney said in an interview on ABC that aired early Friday.
"I think him making it, promoting it, showing it, is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don't think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment -- the good judgment -- not to offend other people's faiths."
The film shows the Prophet Mohammed sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as "the first Muslim animal."
The self-proclaimed producer of the film is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Coptic Christian living in California.
Romney stressed the right to free speech guaranteed by the US Constitution, saying "under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do."
But he insisted that denigrating something sacred "and then parading that out in a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn't do it."
Romney's comments appeared to parallel a statement he harshly criticized that was issued by the US embassy in Cairo hours before protesters stormed the compound Tuesday and tore down a US flag.
The Cairo embassy statement condemned "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims, as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."
Romney immediately slammed that statement, even as further violence erupted, saying it was "disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
On the same night in Libya, the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when militants attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.
Even though the embassy statement came out hours before the violence, Romney insisted Friday it was inappropriate to keep it "up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours," noting that the administration distanced itself from the statement.
"I think it should have been taken down, and apparently the White House felt the same way," he said.