News / USA

Man Allegedly Behind Anti-Islam Film Slams Protesters

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.
x
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.
VOA News
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."

Photo Gallery

  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister towards the riot police during clashes near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, September 14, 2012.
  • Sudanese policemen try to disperse protesters demonstrating outside the German Embassy in Khartoum, September 14, 2012.
  • Sudanese women chant slogans during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, Sept. 14, 2012.
  • A protester sprays graffiti on a wall during a protest march to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa September 13, 2012.
  • Palestinians burn U.S. and Israeli flags during a protest against a film produced in the U.S. that they said that was insulting to Prophet Muhammad, in Gaza City, September 14, 2012.
  • A boy holds a toy gun during a protest in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh near Sidon, Lebanon, September 14, 2012.
  • Protesters chant slogans during a march to the U.S. Embassy in Doha, September 14, 2012.
  • Shi'ite Muslim supporters of the Imamia Student Organization (ISO) shout anti-American slogans during a protest rally in Islamabad, September 14, 2012.
  • Bangladeshi Muslims shout slogans as they participate in a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 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.

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.

You May Like

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Richard from: Washington
September 14, 2012 8:54 PM
At Mike: Cause Christians have been doing that for the last 2000 years.

by: Debra from: Loveland, Colorado
September 14, 2012 6:24 PM
Every one of us should take individual responsibility for trying to keep peace where they can. A US citizen who deliberately antagonizes people of another country should be punished by the USA.

This movie producer and those who went along with what was released should be jailed and held financially responsible for each of those Americans losing their lives and the thousands of dollars the USA will now have to pay to try to smooth things over.

National Security should apply to each of us calling the USA home and we should all do our part to keep Americans safe !

Let's send Mr Movie producer to the middle east so he can explain himself to the people he targeted in this movie !

by: Dr. Malek Muhammad Towghi from: Michigan, USA
September 14, 2012 5:01 PM
Seems to be a balanced, informed and responsible person aware and critical of the low, vulgar and ignorant quality of the film's direction and production. Having written a Ph.D. dissertation (1991) on the same formative period of the Islamic history, I can say that basically there is nothing ascribed by the author to relevant figures which cannot be supported by one or more of the authentic Islamic sacred/primary sources. However being an important Arab figure, the Islamic prophet had class and was a serious, cultured and noble person according to the Arab norms of the time. Muhammad would never act the way depicted by the stupid and extremely vulgar director/s and producer/s of the film. He was more a JFK than a Bill Clinton in handling his private affairs.

by: strange world
September 14, 2012 3:22 PM
i just watched the trailer and calling this thing a "film" is awfully generous. i do not understand how something so shoddy and dumb can even be taken seriously by anyone.

by: mike from: san francisco
September 14, 2012 2:30 PM
i watched an anti-christian film the other day. where are all the christian protestors throwing rocks?????? hmmmmmmm

by: class from: us
September 14, 2012 1:27 PM
Put his "undisclosed location" on u-tube. First amendment rights you know.
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs