Mystery surrounds anti-Islam movie makers

2012-09-13 10:01

Los Angeles - Mystery remained on Wednesday over exactly who was behind the anti-Islam film which sparked deadly protests in the Middle East, amid conflicting claims of Jewish or Coptic Christian involvement.

The film's director, who called himself Sam Bacile and said on Tuesday he is American-Israeli and had Jewish financial backing, went into hiding after the protests in Egypt and Libya over his low-budget movie Innocence of Muslims.

But doubts about his identity grew, culminating in US media reports pointing to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes, living outside Los Angeles.

Adding further to the puzzle, the cast and crew of the movie voiced anger at having been exploited, with at least one saying that offensive parts of dialogue had been dubbed over their own words, as filmed.

US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

Steve Klein, a consultant on the movie, denied that Israeli authorities were involved in the film, and said Bacile - which he acknowledged was a pseudonym - was mortified to hear of the US ambassador's death.

'Islam is a cancer'

"He's very upset that the ambassador got murdered," he said.

In a Wall Street Journal interview published on Tuesday, "Bacile" took straight aim at Islam.

"Islam is a cancer," he said, adding that he had raised $5m to make the film from about 100 Jewish donors, and used about 60 actors and 45 crew to make the two-hour movie in a three-month period last year in California.

The film was screened in one Hollywood movie theatre about three months ago, and sank without trace, until an Arabic-language dubbed version was released last week and footage was aired by an Egyptian TV station, triggering protests.

But the cast and crew voiced anger on Wednesday, according to CNN, which cited a joint statement as saying: "The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer.

"We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose... We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved.

Obvious overdubbing

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who plays a woman whose young daughter is given to Mohammed to marry, said she did not know the film was anti-Muslim propaganda, adding that dialogue had been overdubbed after filming.

"It was going to be a film based on how things were 2 000 years ago," Garcia told the gossip website Gawker. "There wasn't anything about Mohammed or Muslims or anything."

Indeed, the over-dubbing of dialogue is obvious to even to a casual viewer of a 14-minute clip for the movie available online, with words crudely inserted in the middle of sentences.

Online reports cited in the New York Times blog suggested Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, and his ally Terry Jones, the Florida pastor notorious for previous Qur'an-burning stunts, had co-operated in promoting the movie.

But later on Wednesday a report cited by US media identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as saying he managed the company that produced the film, and that he was a Coptic Christian.

The 55-year-old, who was sentenced to 21 months in jail over federal bank fraud charges in 2010, denied however that he was Sam Bacile, even though a cellphone used for a media interview on Tuesday was traced to his address.

'He could get killed'

Klein said he did not know the filmmaker's nationality - and denied that Israeli authorities had anything to do with the project.

"I know there's some rumours out there, that Israel did it. No. Israel's not involved... This was private people, private money."

Klein warned that the director could suffer the same fate as Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was assassinated in 2004 after triggering protests with an anti-Muslim film.

"He could get killed, really easily," he said.

Pastor Jones meanwhile denied that the film was against Muslims. "The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but... to reveal truths about Mohammed that are possibly not widely known," he said in a statement, adding it was "very clear that God did not influence him in the writings of the Qur'an".

"The fruits of the religion speak for themselves. For example the recent outbreak of violence and deaths is not because of the film, it is not because of the activities that we have done, and that we will continue to do."

Jones asked to reconsider

Jones said the violence which has accompanied protests in Libya's Benghazi city and the Egyptian capital Cairo "again shows the true nature of Islam. Islam does not tolerate criticism of Mohammed, the Qur'an or Sharia.

"Because of their fear of criticism, knowing that if Islam and the Qur'an were closely examined, Mohammed and the Qur'an will be revealed for what it is, a lie and a deception," the Florida-based pastor added.

The top US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, called Jones, whose previous threats to burn the Qur'an ignited deadly riots in Afghanistan, to urge him to disavow the film.

"In the brief call, General Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause," his spokesperson Colonel Dave Lapan said in an e-mail.

"He asked Mr Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film," he said.

But a senior administration official said Jones made no pledge to stop promoting the film.

"He heard the chairman's concerns but he was non-committal," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

  • aqueel.yasin - 2012-09-13 10:21

    I am a Muslim and proud to be one. Clearly this pastor does not know what he is talking about. Taking a life is never right and people should respect religious beliefs of others even if they differ from your own. Muslims believe in all prophets including Jesus (AS) and if the movie criticized him then we would be just as upset. Bring the producers of this movie to justice and stop the violence! "unto you your religion and unto me mine. "

      grant.callaway.50 - 2012-09-13 10:45

      Good comment, apart from "bring the producers of this movie to justice" part. There have been plenty movies which plainly criticise christian religious beliefs, especially where people have been killed and/or abused "in the name of Christianity". Those killings and abuses ARE WRONG. Period! I believe that most people who use religion for these purposes just dont actually GET religion... but I'm not gonna protect those people because they use Christianity as their motives...

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-09-13 11:38

      'Bring the producers of this movie to justice and stop the violence!' On what charge? Any crticism of religion will be considered offensive , freedom of speech and expression begins with criticism of religion . Muslims are being treated the same as any other religion , all have movies made about them . Muslims are the ones wanting to be treated differently , want special protection and use religion as a justification for the violence we see at the embassies and the threat of intimidation against people to censor them around the world . We can go through the list of people under threat and that have been murdered.

      toufeeq.cornelius - 2012-09-13 15:23

      Agree with you Aqueel. This Pastor is known for attacking Islam . When the day comes where other religions defend themselves from wrong then i support that two. Just as the movie 'Passion of the Christ', also wrong and still havent seen it as i wont support those who make a mokery of religion. The Pastor claims "Because of their fear of criticism, knowing that if Islam and the Qur'an were closely examined, Mohammed and the Qur'an will be revealed for what it is, a lie and a deception," THERE IS LINE BETWEEN CRITICISM AND MOKERY. AND IF U(Pastor Terry Jones) INFLUENCE DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, YOU SHOULD EXPECT DESTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK. Just sayin. And there is nothing to examine...No fine print, and no loop holes. If you have done your homework Mr. Jones you would know that (mayb u need to examine it a bit better)

      Madhi - 2012-09-13 21:01

      Aqueel you talking sense in a mad house, so you either join the madness and swear at everyone who swears at u or make namaz at home. Sorry for that but you can never reason with South Africans in general and not in faith or political/race terms in particular.

  • joe.peters.56 - 2012-09-13 10:42

    Commercial halaal meat is filled with growth hormones and anti-biotics. If you think I am lying, do some proper research at your muslim butcheries.

  • jacyjays.letsoalo - 2012-09-13 11:08

    I am not a muslim and I will never be, but sometimes I believe there are two factors we have to discuss and know! Why everytime when someone paints a wrong picture abt Islam ppl go balistic, they are the one's who make ppl who are religiously naïve more negative abt Islam and the word Islam means being submissive and that is how I believe Muslims are. For one reason us Christians believe Jesus is the Messiah not a prophet but u see us as people we need to understand that religion has divided us and will forver do that when u look at all the three Major religion especially in reference to the OLD Testament in the Christian Bible u see similarities with Adam and Eve, Moses, Abraham and Isaac but it is for us to make that choice! Many Muslims I know are peaceloving ppl but most that we see on TV leave too much to be desired! Look at the book of Leviticus, all these laws that are in Islam are there meaning Religion is the same as politics that is why in Saudi Arabia it rare to get Cocacola due to its link to Jews. But for ppl to go killing or rioting for the sake of religion I find it so stupid for ppl to fight for religion cos it has divided us and God doesn't want that.

  • Madhi - 2012-09-13 20:58

    In the christian traditions there is a story about Jesus (AS) going ballistic beating people up for trading and dealing in a synagogue/temple. To me muslims who react negatively from insults on the tenants of their faith must be understood in the same vain. Now before those who hate islam go ballistic at me of which I dont give a rats ass, I am not promoting violence against anyone, including those 100 jews who decided to provoke muslims and are seen as peace lovers or freedom of speech advocates. Pastor Jones and those 100 jews and others who continue to insult people for their islamic should just live muslims alone and focus on their judaism, christianity, paganism or whatever they believe in. Now that was the matured good muslim boy side of me talking. My dark vengeful side says they all deserve to lose their heads, al zaqawi style, that will make them more famous like the Knight Templers more than the stupid move few people will see. So just send those f...ers to Afghanistan for long term holidays, we will build them a shrine there and all their sympathesisers can visit them every year few no return vouchers. Otherwise let's just all warship the way we want in peace and no insults. No one cares if christians don't protest when they are insulted, they must not extend their policies to everyone. We rather do as Jesus did.

      jacyjays.letsoalo - 2012-09-14 08:41

      The story of Jesus turning down the tables have got nothing to do with ppl resorting to violence whenever there is something contrary to what they believe! Jesus found ppl trading in the church of God that took many years to build, whenever he was persecuted he always maintained peace! What worries me is that ppl forget that religion will divide us forever and so long as we are prepared to reason on impulse we shall forever be in war! There is a difference between a Jew and a Christian even more so Islam! But we are all Human! Dear brothers if somebody draws a cartoon of Jesus I won't burn him or revolt against him, I will pray for him or even just laugh at how funny ppl are. We all aren't sure which is the best religion of God but if u know Politics u will understand Religion and that is where conspiracies of life started! God is one

  • pages:
  • 1