News24

Activist 'deceived' over anti-Islam film

2012-09-19 11:01

Washington - An American Coptic Christian activist whose California TV facility was used to make an anti-Islamic film that touched off protests across the Muslim world said he was deceived by the film's producer about its inflammatory content.

In a statement posted on the blog of a prominent American anti-Islamic activist, Joseph Nassralla, founder of a Duarte, California-based group called Media for Christ, said he was a victim of "disinformation and smear" and the film's principal producer had altered its content without his knowledge.

Media for Christ operates a Christian satellite TV station called The Way TV, according to its website and tax return.

Nassralla said he was contacted last year by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, whom he described as the film's producer, with a plan to make a film about the persecution of Christians in Egypt.

Nakoula, who has a criminal record for bank fraud and drug offenses, was briefly questioned last weekend by federal authorities about possible probation violations. He was later released and has gone into hiding.

Nassralla said in his statement that in explaining his film project, Nakoula had said the film would be called Desert Warrior and would "examine the culture of the desert and how it is related to what is going on right now".

Nakoula may issue statement

The statement was posted on the website Atlasshrugs2000, which is run by Pamela Geller, an activist who has organised anti-Islamic protests and events, including demonstrations opposing construction of an Islamic centre near the site of the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

There was no way to independently confirm Nassralla's account.

An attorney representing Nakoula in the investigation by probation officials declined to comment on Nassralla's statement, saying he was aware of the blog post but had not had a chance to discuss it with his client. He said Nakoula or his representatives may issue a statement in the future.

Nassralla, who spoke at two rallies in 2010 and 2011 organised by Geller, said Nakoula "needed a place to film. So I let him use my facility".

"That is all I did, and is the full extent of my involvement with this project. Nakoula used my facility for ten days. Media for Christ employees were given a vacation during that time, because Nakoula was using the facility and so there was no work for them. There was only one Media for Christ employee who remained, to answer phones for the ministry," Nassralla said.

There was no sign of activity at the small studios of Media for Christ, located in a nondescript office park behind a Walmart store in suburban Duarte, during two visits last week by a Reuters reporter.

Chain of violent protests

On both occasions the doors were found locked and knocks went unanswered. A woman who worked at an office next door said she had not seen any employees there in recent days.

Nassralla said he later discovered that Nakoula, using the name "Sam Bacile", had used Media for Christ's name without his permission to obtain an official permit for making the film.

After accounts of the film began circulating in Egypt and other Muslim majority countries, the amateurish production - which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womaniser and a fool - set off a chain of violent protests and attacks on US and other Western embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.

In his statement, Nassralla said Nakoula had "filmed his movie not only at my ministry location, but in Nakoula's own home [which reporters located by getting the address from the actors], and in another facility for outside scenes that was included in the permit, Blue Canyon".

Nassralla also said that behind his back, Nakoula had "altered the film without anyone's knowledge, changing its entire focus and dubbing in new dialogue. He edited it".

"The final product, Innocence of Muslims, bore no resemblance to the film I thought he was making, or the film the actors thought they were creating. We were shocked," Nassralla said.

Political prisoner of sharia law

In an introduction to Nassralla's statement, Geller said that she had last seen him at an event in June in California, and that now he was being "hunted like an animal for speaking critically about Islam".

Nassralla "is currently in hiding after multiple death threats from Muslims because of his purported role in producing this video", she said.

In an exchange of e-mails with Reuters last weekend, Geller suggested that if Nakoula was arrested, that would represent an attempt to impose strict Islamic sharia law in the United States.

"He will not be in prison for fraud or some probation violation, but for blasphemy. This is Sharia enforcement in America," she said.

In a later e-mail, however, Geller expressed disappointment over Nassralla's account of his dealings with Nakoula. But she added, "That would not make [Nakoula] any less a political prisoner."

Comments
  • john.baptista.505 - 2012-09-19 13:05

    Who Cares about their motive??? The fact is that Islamists (Note: not PC "extremists" as the religion is actually extreme) used this really laughable low budget junk film as an excuse to murder and burn and protest. As it happens, it all happened on the anniversary of 9/11... Oh yes - the media did not pick up on this that the film had been on the tube since July! Stop making excuses for Islam and finding ways to blame "Christian" television stations for what is wrong with over a billion of our fellow earth dwellers. Blindness leads to this madness. Not a ridiculous youtube clip which anyone with any sense of humour would dismiss.

      yusuf.ahmed.1276487 - 2012-09-20 09:49

      Hey defend your infidel brothers as much as you want, the real story always comes out and now we know who really are behind the making of this movie. The real intentions are revealed. Looks like you are the blind one here john.rapist

  • clive.cox.1460 - 2012-09-19 13:06

    It seems as if you can't look at an Islam protest without seeing a USA flag being burnt. What I can't understand is how the Muslim people in traditionally Islam countries all seem to own USA flags? If you hate the USA so much, why do you own their flag? You are only make someone in the USA even richer than you already hate him for!

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-19 13:54

      don’t you find it hypocritical that they can burn the stars and stripes (US flag) but God forbid you draw a cartoon, make a Movie or burn a Quran... I personally find the hypocrisy astounding… they can dish it but cant take it – just shows immense insecurity.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-19 14:04

      FYI - I am against making of racists movies & cartoon, the burning of holy books and/or national flags.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-19 14:05

      FYI - I am against making of racists movies & cartoon, the burning of holy books and/or national flags.

      eseedat - 2012-09-19 14:51

      the flags are made in china

      Okuta Felix - 2012-09-19 19:29

      It,s a pity! That is man inhuman to man

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-09-20 10:05

      Hadjis don't have balls.

  • ziyaad.cajee.7 - 2012-09-19 15:57

    When you attack black people, They call it "Racism", When you attack Jewish people, They call it "Anti-semetism", When you attack Women, They call it "Gender discrimination", When you attack Homosexuality, They call it "Intolerance", When you attack your Country, They call it "Terrorism", When you attack a Religious sect, they call it "Hate speech", But when They attack at the dignity of our Beloved Prophet MUHAMMAD (Sallal laho Alaihi Wasallam) NB: No need to say more

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-19 16:51

      Another senseless rant, Ziyaad. When are you going to mature and become a thinking and feeling adult?

  • ziyaad.cajee.7 - 2012-09-19 16:42

    When you attack black people, They call it "Racism", When you attack Jewish people, They call it "Anti-semetism", When you attack Women, They call it "Gender discrimination", When you attack Homosexuality, They call it "Intolerance", When you attack your Country, They call it "Terrorism", When you attack a Religious sect, they call it "Hate speech", But when They attack at the dignity of our Beloved Prophet MUHAMMAD (Sallal laho Alaihi Wasallam) They call it " Freedom of Expression"

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-19 16:52

      What does this even mean? It's a senseless crazed rant that means nothing of any substance.

      Mark - 2012-09-20 10:07

      ... and when Muslim extremists murder innocent people they say it is in the name of Allah. Your extremists brain-wash innocent, gullible Muslims into blowing themselves up and murdering innocent people because they have been falsely led to believe that they will spend eternity in paradise. A wet dream has more truth.

      CaptainGaza - 2012-09-20 12:05

      Those Slamous that blow themselves up are COWARDS!!! Why do you feel the need to protect Allah, surely your almighty can do it him\her\itself and doesn't need your help

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