How outrage against anti-Islam film unfolded17 september 2012, 17:36
The inflammatory anti-Islam film that has triggered rioting across the Muslim world was produced by a US religious group called Media for Christ and reportedly directed by a pornographer.
The man apparently behind the film -- entitled "Innocence of Muslims" on its 14-minute YouTube trailer -- is a US-based Egyptian Copt and fraudster who may have violated his parole, US officials said Friday.
The film was directed by 65-year-old Alan Roberts, a veteran whose prior oeuvre was dominated by schlock soft porn and hammy action with titles like "Young Lady Chatterley II" and "Karate Cop," according to website Gawker.
Gawker interviewed members of the cast of "Innocence of Muslims," who say they were duped into appearing in what they thought was a fictional epic, only to discover their lines had been dubbed over with anti-Muslim propaganda.
Roberts's casting call lists the leading roles as George, Condalisa and Hillary, but in the finished version, the script was doctored to make them represent the Prophet Mohammed and figures from the Koran.
The film was promoted by a network of right-wing Coptic and Evangelical Christians with a radical anti-Muslim agenda, like Egyptian American provocateur Morris Sadek and Terry Jones, a Florida pastor notorious for publicly burning a Koran.
And, acting as "consultant," was Steve Klein, a Vietnam veteran and founder of Courageous Christians United who is notorious for protests outside mosques and Mormon temples and who told AFP he helped the moviemakers.
The film itself does not appear to have broken any US laws, but Nakoula Bassily Nakoula, the 55-year-old Egyptian Copt believed to have written the film, may have breached the rules governing his conditional release from prison.
"The matter is under review," said a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the US Courts.
A 2009 indictment from a US District Court in California shows that Nakoula was charged with defrauding US banks by opening false accounts and passing bad checks.
He has since been released on probation, and the document says he agreed to testify against the alleged ringleader in the check scam, but if Nakoula is now found to have broken the terms of his parole, he could go back to jail.
As part of his release terms, he was forbidden from using computers or the Internet for five years and fined $790,000.
This week saw Nakoula move from anonymous petty criminal to become a central figure in an international incident that has triggered mass protests in Muslim-majority countries in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and seen several US diplomatic missions attacked.
Reporters and police are camped out outside Nakoula's house in Cerrito outside Los Angeles, but he has not been seen, although he did give an interview to Radio Sawa, a US-government station that broadcasts in Arabic.
"I am the one who leaked the 14 minutes and put it on the Internet and I am thinking about releasing the full film. Nobody manipulated my film," he said. The clip on YouTube was picked up by Egyptian television.
The film has amateurish production values, with actors in laughable false beards appearing to hover weightlessly in front of stock desert footage.
But its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant offended many Muslims, and sparked a wave of anti-American protests that have cost several lives and saw mobs burn US missions, schools and businesses.
According to Paul Audley, president of Film LA, which issues filming permits in Los Angeles, a group called Media for Christ was issued a one-day shooting license in August 2011 for a film with the working title "Desert Warriors."
"I do know personally for having looked at it, before it was withdrawn, that the producer's name on it is Sam Bossil," he said in an interview. Bossil is believed to be one of the pseudonyms used by Nakoula, who uploaded the clip as "Sam Bacile."
A man identifying himself as Sam Bacile gave interviews to US media this week in which he claimed to be an Israeli-American Jew who made the film to help Israel, but a consultant on the movie has since debunked this claim.
Media for Christ's websites and Facebook page were taken down without explanation Friday, but the group is reportedly a right-wing conservative operation founded by Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih, an Egyptian Copt.
"Media For Christ is a place to discover the word of God and the Gospel preached by many different ministries and ministers in the Lord," the brief introduction to the otherwise defunct website reads.
The group is based just outside Los Angeles in the city of Duarte, where city manager Karen Herrera confirmed it holds an active business permit.
By Leila Macor from AFP
HOW OUTRAGE AGAINST ANTI-ISLAM FILM UNFOLDED
A breakdown of events since the diffusion of a film considered offensive to Islam which prompted violent anti-US protests around the Muslim world and led to the death of four Americans in Libya.
The film "Innocence of Muslims," directed a film-maker portraying himself as Israeli-American but US media say is a Coptic Christian, calls Islam a "cancer."
--TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2012--
- An armed mob protesting over the film attacks the US consulate in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, killing US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three more embassy officials, including two ex-marines.
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi. ©AFP
- In Egypt some 3,000 mainly Salafist demonstrators tear down the Stars and Stripes at the Cairo US embassy and replace it with a black Islamic flag, similar to one adopted by militant groups.
Thousands protest outside the US embassy in Cairo. ©AFP
Egyptians protest outside the US embassy in Cairo. ©AFP
--WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12--
- The Benghazi killings are strongly condemned by Libya which apologises to the United States. The authorities in Tripoli blame followers of the deposed regime of late strongman Moamer Kadhafi and Al-Qaeda.
Libya's Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib (R) and Mohamed al-Megaryef (L). ©AFP
- US President Barack Obama condemns the "outrageous" attack but vows he will not break America's bond with Libya. He orders stepped up security at US posts worldwide.
- Anti-US protests take place in several Arab countries, including Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan.
Tunisian protesters burn a US flag bearing a portrait of US actress Marilyn Monroe during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam. ©AFP
Egyptian protesters burn the US flag during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam. ©AFP
--THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13--
- In Yemen, where the US embassy is attacked, clashes between police and demonstrators kill four people. More than 200 are injured when protesters stone the US mission in Cairo. Demonstrations also take place in Iraq, Iran and the Gaza Strip.
Yemeni protesters gather around fire during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Sanaa over a film mocking Islam. ©AFP
Yemeni protesters try to break through the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam. ©AFP
- A "big advance" has been made in the probe into the attack on the US consulate, Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur says.
- Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi slams the film, but warns against the use of violence. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the film as "disgusting and reprehensible," stressing the US government had nothing to do with it.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ©AFP
--FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14--
- Tens of thousands of Muslims demonstrate across the Islamic world to denounce the film.
Islamic party activists set fire to a US flag during a protest against an internet film mocking Islam in Dhaka, Bangladesh. ©AFP
Iranian protestors hold anti-US posters as they demonstrate after Friday prayers against a film mocking Islam, in Tehran. ©AFP
Supporters of Pakistan's outlawed Islamic hardline group Jamaat ud Dawa (JD) shout anti-US slogans during a demonstration against the anti-Islam film in Karachi. ©AFP
- Two people are killed and 29 wounded in clashes at the US embassy in Tunis, with two of the injured reported in a critical condition.
Tunisian protesters break into the US embassy in Tunis during a protest against a film mocking Islam. ©AFP
- In Khartoum, where two demonstrators are killed, guards at the US embassy fire warning shots as a security perimeter is breached by dozens of protesters, after thousands earlier stormed the British embassy and torched the German mission.
Sudanese policemen stand guard opposite demonstrators during a protest against an amateur film mocking Islam. ©AFP
- In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, one demonstrator is killed and 25 people hurt in clashes with police after Islamists set fire to a KFC restaurant.
Lebanese men ransack US fast food chains Hardee's and KFC as they protest against the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims". ©AFP
- A group of Bedouin storms an international peacekeepers' camp in Egypt's Sinai to protest against the film, sparking clashes that injure three people.
Egyptian protesters throw stones to the riot police during clashes near the US embassy in Cairo. ©AFP