Screen shot of Innocence of Muslims, the film causing outrage across the Middle East and North Africa.
Four Americans were killed during an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday, including America’s ambassador of Libya, Chris Stevens. The attack was fueled by anger at an American amateur film mocking the Prophet Mohammed, portraying him as a madman, a philanderer, and a child molester.
Whilst it’s unclear now whether the killings were carried out by any one of Libya’s militant groups using the protest over the film as a cover, it is clear that the film in question, Innocence of Muslims, is continuing to rile Muslims across North Africa. The US consulate in Sanaa, Yemen, was reportedly stormed by protesters, and in Egypt, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party has called for nationwide demonstrations against the film.
But that’s about all that’s clear – tracking down who’s actually responsible for the poorly-made film is proving difficult.
Who’s behind Innocence of Muslims?
Initially, it appeared that the person who uploaded clips of the film to YouTube, in which the actor’s dialog has been dubbed over in parts to make rude statements about Islam, was one Sam Bacile. A person claiming to be Sam Bacile told the media on Tuesday that he was the writer and director of the film, and was, according to the BBC, “an Israeli-born Jewish estate agent who had raised millions of dollars from Jewish donors to make the film”. But no one can find any record of such a person existing, though Pastor Terry Jones from Florida, whose Koran-burning antics earned him the eternal hatred of both Muslims and American officials working in Muslim countries, claimed to have spoken to him. The AP tracked down one Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in America, who may be linked to the film, as well as another Coptic Christian in California, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who admitted being involved in managing the film’s production but was not the mysterious Sam Bacile.
“Islam is a cancer. The movie is a political movie, it is not a religious movie. The US lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas,” “Sam Bacile” told the AP.
Even the actors don’t know
One actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, who had a small role in the film, told Gawker that she had no idea it was anti-Islam propaganda and that her lines were dubbed over to included references to the Prophet; in fact, the film was called Desert Warrior when she was involved, and she thought it was about life in Egypt 2,000 years ago. Soon after, the entire 80-member cast and crew issued a statement claiming they were “were grossly misled about its intent and purpose.” Garcia said that the director, who she knew as Sam Bacile and who told her he was Egyptian, was “really mellow” on set. When she found out about his apparent duplicity, she said, “I called Sam and said, ‘Why did you do this?’ and he said, ‘I’m tired of radical Islamists killing each other. Let other actors know it’s not their fault.’”
Provocateurs know which buttons to push
These “filmmakers” “know that politics and religion don’t mix in the Middle East,” wrote Robert Fisk at The Independent, yet they deliberately provoked 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. “With the help of our wonderful new technology, however, it only needs a couple of loonies to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world within seconds,” he said.
Trailer for Innocence of Muslims: