News / USA

Inflammatory Film Has Unclear Origins

Mike O'Sullivan
An obscure film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad has been blamed for sparking protests across the Middle East, and the violent assault Tuesday that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy workers in Libya.  The film was largely unheard of until a promotional clip was translated into Arabic on the Internet.

Little is known about the origins of the film beyond a 14-minute trailer that appeared on the Internet.  Called "The Innocence of Muslims," 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 says that name is a pseudonym, and there are suggestions that the man behind the film is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who lives in California.  There is no record of the film or its producer in Hollywood reference sources.  

The video clip was posted to YouTube in early July, and appears to have been made mostly with amateur actors on a low budget.  It shows the persecution of Egyptian Coptic Christians. It also portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a buffoon and womanizer who endorses child abuse.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, believes the film would have remained obscure, but extremist groups in Egypt and Libya have used it to advance their agenda.  He notes that the attacks and protests coincided with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Never mind the families at Ground Zero who are reading out the names of their loved ones, the memorial candles being lit.  We don't like to see that kind of coverage, so we're going to do what we can to get our world view out there, which is a conspiratorial world view," Cooper said.

Cooper says if the film had not been produced, extremists would have found another pretext for their attacks. He says there are questions he would like answered by those who made it.

“Why they made the film, and who exactly wrote the script, who paid for it?,” Cooper said.

None of that is yet clear, but the controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones has promoted the film.  He is known for sparking deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 with threats - later carried out - to burn the Quran.

Political analyst Josh Lockman, who teaches international law at the University of Southern California, says we live in an age of of hyper-expedited news, when an action in Florida or Afghanistan can trigger passions half a world away.  He says country-to-country relations are sometimes out of the hands of professional diplomats.

“Neither the U.S. government nor the Libyan government are responsible for either the film which was produced, or the horrific terrorist attack which occurred, killing Ambassador Stevens and three other diplomats.  But both governments have to reckon with the inflammatory by-products of private actors,” Lokman said.

Several news organizations have linked the inflammatory film to an Egyptian American, 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who lives in California and once was convicted of bank fraud.  Nakoula says he handled logistics for the production.

Another California man who says he served as a consultant, Steve Klein, has given conflicting accounts of the film's origin and funding.  Klein is the founder of anti-Muslim and other hate groups.  According to the U.S. Poverty Law Center, which maintains a list of such groups, Klein has conducted paramilitary training at the compound of a militant Christian church in California.

Actors and crew members from the controversial film say the producer misled them.  Several have said they were shocked at the final production and appalled by its message.  They say there was no reference to the Prophet Muhammad in the original script and that new dialogue was dubbed after production.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: gloria from: denver
September 17, 2012 10:46 AM
171501, What I would like to know is why muslims and most immingrants alway's feel the're the victims? I was recentley at a hotel with my husband and I was called a white Nigger from a Muslium so called sister, her and her musliium relatives who happens to be with them were nothing but fifteen and siteen year olds, so if Muslim are not sitting around at the dinner table preaching hate,America is fooling them self"s the middle easterns that come to America and Canada a treaded much better than we are,so in that case of cousrse the so called prophit preach hate and have been for century's America and Canada governorment allowed it to go on with out saying anything for years up until afte 911.


by: JubariS from: yemen
September 14, 2012 3:42 AM
The fact that this trailer has been lying down on Youtube since two months clearly depicts that the violence and riots as well complicating the Arab-Islamic world/US relation, nevertheless, in my country, local beneficiaries of this crisis, used it to weaken the Yemen-USA relation using bunch of ragtag and bobtail to make a point that the government is weak not able to defend foreign intrests in Yemeni capital!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid