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Man Allegedly Behind Anti-Islam Film Slams Protesters

  • VOA News

A group of Kenyan muslims burn the U.S. flag following afternoon prayers outside the Sakina Jamia Mosque in the port city of Mombasa, Sept. 14, 2012.

A group of Kenyan muslims burn the U.S. flag following afternoon prayers outside the Sakina Jamia Mosque in the port city of Mombasa, Sept. 14, 2012.

A man who says he was behind the private film sparking demonstrations in the Muslim world is criticizing the protesters.

In an interview with U.S.-government-funded Radio Sawa, the alleged director of the film says his fellow Arabs "have to learn demonstrate peacefully against the issues on which we disagree." He says any allegation the United States government was involved in the making of the movie is "funny and ridiculous" and that "America has nothing to do with the film."

Radio Sawa says the man refused to confirm his identity but that a source who provided the contact information identified him as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

"Innocence of Muslims" Movie
  • Excerpts of the film were posted on YouTube in English and Arabic
  • The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a caricature
  • Reportedly financed by expatriate members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority group
  • Promoted by Florida-based Christian Pastor Terry Jones, who burned a Quran in his church
Several news organizations have linked the inflammatory film, titled "The Innocence of Muslims," to Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian who lives in California and recently served a prison sentence for bank fraud.

Initially, the film was said to have been produced by a man named Sam Bacile, who told news media he is Israeli-American. A consultant on the film confirmed the name "Sam Bacile" was a pseudonym. There is no record of the film or its producer in Hollywood reference sources.

The man believed to be Nakoula tells Radio Sawa he did not expect the film would cause such strong reactions from the Arab and Muslim world, saying the film's other producers "put my mind at ease." But he also says all the film's advisers were "foreigners who do not know anything about Arabs and have never visited Arab countries."

During a protest over the film outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday, armed militants killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. staff members.

Nakoula says he is saddened by the deaths but that he does not regret making the film. He also rejected allegations made by some of the actors and crew members that they were tricked into making the movie.

When asked if he misled the actors and crew, he said "This is a producer’s right. He can put what he wants in the film without consulting the actors... my answer to them is that they do not belong to a professional association."

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Translation of Sawa Interview with the film maker of “Innocence of Muslims”

In a telephone interview with Radio Sawa, the man claiming to have made the film that triggered demonstrations in much of the Islamic world says he has no regrets about the project. The following is a translation of the interview that was conducted in Arabic:
Filmmaker: I’m going to tell you the whole truth. All the names mentioned in the media outlets have nothing to do with my real name.
Sawa: So, introduce yourself to the readers and listeners. Who are you?
Filmmaker: I am an Islamic affairs researcher since 1985 or 1986. When I claim things I always provide documentations and proof. I started my researches since I heard about certain events that concern the Muslims.
Sawa: What are the events that prompted you to write about Islam and Muslims?
Filmmaker: The events that took place in Iran when they started to expel the Jews and the people of other faiths out of Iran. The second thing that followed that was Salman Rushdie’s book. He was a man who wrote a book that has nothing to do with Islam. The Muslims put a bounty of $5 million to have him killed and I was angered by that. This was an intellectual terrorism.
Sawa: Those events were the reason that prompted you to write about Islam?
Filmmaker: Of course. And by the way, I graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University
Sawa: There are media reports that say that you are the producer of the movie “Innocence of Muslims.” are you?
Filmmaker: I am the screenwriter of the movie.
Sawa: Who produced the movie?
Filmmaker: I am not going to disclose the identity of the producer.
Sawa: Some are saying that the United States was involved.
Filmmaker: This is funny and ridiculous. America has nothing to do with the film. What is being said about America being the producer of the movie is not logical at all. It is only a way to find an excuse to blame America. …The movie was produced in a very primitive way just to deliver a message. Now there are prominent producers and directors who plan to produce other movies.
Sawa: Are you claiming that there are other movies in the pipeline?
Filmmaker: This is what I heard, but can’t confirm this.
Sawa: What made you decide to write the script of the movie?
Filmmaker: I wrote a book in 1993 or 1994. The producers liked the book and asked me to write a movie script about it.
Sawa: What was the title of that book?
Filmmaker: I refuse to mention the title of the book because this will reveal my true identity.
Sawa: Some of the actors in the movie claim that you misled them and the original script was not the same as the final product. Is that true?
Filmmaker: Absolutely not. Those actors are not members of a professional acting association and therefore do not have the right to appeal the final product. The producer has the right to change the movie’s name or script as he wishes. However, I don’t blame them for claiming that they were misled to protect themselves from any harm. All that is owed them is pay for their acting. Nothing else.
Sawa: Did you anticipate the film would cause such strong reactions?
Filmmaker: No I did not expect that, but the producer and director assured me not to worry.
Sawa: How did you feel about the violent reaction in the Islamic world and the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya?
Filmmaker: First, the U.S. ambassador’s death has nothing to do with the film. The people who did this are thugs and thieves. I have a question for those people: If you are defending the Prophet, why do you steal from embassies? President Sadat said in the past: "Such is an uprising of thugs. America is a victim of injustice in this case. What does the U.S. government have to do with these subjects? If a person anywhere in the world does something, should a government be held responsible? Of course not. We have to learn demonstrate peacefully against the issues on which we disagree. But it seems that Omar Suleiman was right when he said, "We are not yet ready for democracy."
Sawa: After the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, do you regret the making of the film?
Filmmaker: No, I do not regret it. I am saddened for the killing of ambassador, but I do not regret making it.
Sawa: If you had the chance again would you produce the same film?
Filmmaker: I believe that I’ve done my part. I am no longer a young man. I've decided to retire. That is enough for me.
Sawa: Do you have any kind of security protection given the strong reaction to the movie?
Filmmaker: Absolutely not. Nobody knows my name. I never had any kind of protection and why would I need protection while living a normal life.
Sawa: Dozens of the Coptic organization in Egypt have denounced the movie.
Filmmaker: They have the right to do so, and they have nothing to do with the movie and I have nothing to do with them. I want to say that I did not come up with any information other than what is written in the Islamic books. I added nothing of my own.
Sawa: Have you read the Quran?
Filmmaker: Of course I have read the Quran, the Hadiths and more that 3,000 Islamic books.
Sawa: Do you believe that that only Islam has negative sides? What are your views about Judaism and Christianity, for example?
Filmmaker: I am an average reader about other religions and I can write about Judaism and Christianity if I ever resume writing.
Sawa: I see that you are defending America a lot in our interview? Do you have a sense of guilt for what happened?
Filmmaker: Yes, I feel guilty. America has got nothing to do with this film.
Sawa: Do you have a message to the world that you want to relay through your interview with Radio Sawa?
Filmmaker: Yes. I want the world to watch the movie in its entirety. The duration of the movie is 1.55 hours. Then you can judge for yourselves. I’m now thinking about posting the whole movie on the internet.
Sawa: The US department of State and President Obama denounced that movie.
Filmmaker: President Obama is responsible for the lives of 400 million Americans and he has all the right to say anything and use any means to protect his people. In the end, I would like to relay my condolences to the United States for the death of the U.S. Ambassador and the other Embassy staff.

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