Q&A on the anti-Islamic movie

It began as a low-budget film and has now caused death and destruction

Image Credit: AFP
Jakarta anti-riot police detain a film protester yesterday.
30 Gulf News

How did the film come to public attention?

The video was first posted online on July 1 without attracting much attention. It was later picked up by various Arab TV stations, with religious Egyptian TV channel Al Nas’ presenter Khalid Abdullah broadcasting scenes on September 8. A clip from his show, dubbed into Arabic, was posted online and within days had been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The Afghan government says it has blocked YouTube to prevent people from watching it.

White House officials have asked YouTube to consider whether the film breaches its own guidelines. These guidelines include the stipulation: “We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we do not permit hate speech...”

Google, which owns YouTube, said in a statement that the video was “clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube”, but added that “given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt” it had restricted access to the video in both countries.

What does the film show?

The video, a trailer for a longer film entitled Innocence of Muslims, appears to depict Islam as a religion of violence and hate, and its Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as a foolish and power-hungry man.

It opens with a scene in which a Coptic family in a newly radicalised Islamic Egypt is attacked by a group of Muslims while police look on without intervening. The father tells his daughters that Muslims want to kill all Christians and that the Islamic state is hiding their crimes.

Why is it so offensive?

Depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in any way already defies Islamic belief, let alone satirising him. His wife Khadija and his earliest companions are also revered in their own right in Islam, and so mocking these individuals is also considered serious blasphemy.

What do we know about how it was put together?

The entire film is thought to be around an hour long, although most have only seen a 14-minute trailer which has now been widely circulated on the internet in English and Arabic.

The fuller version had a showing in a small Los Angeles cinema, the Vine Theatre, in June, where its title was The Innocence of Bin Laden.

It was clearly put together on a budget, with a cheaply made set, amateur actors and poor production standards. It was shot over five days at a California film studio in August last year, with a cast of around 50, together with a large production crew.

The most offensive parts of the film appear not to have been in the original, but dubbed over the soundtrack at a later date.

Who is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula?

The now infamous trailer for the film was posted through a YouTube account linked to the name ‘sambacile’ — originally reported as an Israeli-born Jewish estate agent who had raised $5 million (Dh18.8 million) from Jewish donors in the US to make the film. But this person did not exist.

US authorities now say they have identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian living in California, as the man who made the film.

Nakoula, who was found guilty of fraud in 2010 and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, is thought to have used the pseudonym “Sam Bacile” to hide his identity. He denies the allegations.

What do the actors say about it?

They say they were misled about the film entirely, claiming that the original film had nothing to do with Islam or the Prophet, and that all references to him and insults to the religion were added post-production.

Cindy Lee Garcia, who had a small role in the film, told Gawker.com that she and others were given a script for a film called Desert Warriors, and that it would be a historical drama set in the Middle East. Garcia also said she had seen Nakoula on set.

Who else appears to have been involved in the making of the film?

An American right-wing extremist called Steve Klein, linked with various anti-Islamic groups in California, has said he promoted the film but does not know the identity of the director.

According to Salon, Klein cultivated links with Californian Coptic Christian Joseph Nasralla, who has been identified as president and CEO of Media for Christ, the organisation alleged to have produced the film.

Media for Christ is based in Duarte, California, and advertises its mission as promoting Christian values.

Pastor Terry Jones, from Florida, who gained notoriety after threatening to burn a copy of the Quran over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near the site of the World Trade Centre, has said he was in touch with a Mr Bacile over promotion of the film, but did not meet him and could not identify him.

According to Gawker.com, soft-porn director Alan Roberts was brought in to work on the film by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. The site says he too may not have been aware what he was actually working on.

—Compiled from agencies, BBC


  • Sami

    Sep 18, 2012 9:20

    The author of this article might not aware about the true, honest and sincere personality of Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W)/(P.B.U.H) and I should feel so sad about the words the author used while describing the movie, The authors must be qualified and their contents should be proof-read by the editors prior publishing in GulfNews. May Allah keep us on right path.

  • Daudi Abdullah

    Sep 18, 2012 8:32

    What Does Islam Say about Terrorism? Islam, a religion of mercy, does not permit terrorism. In the Quran, God has said: “God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers.” (Quran 60:8) The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, used to prohibit soldiers from killing women and children,[1] and he would advise them: “...Do not betray, do not be excessive, do not kill a newborn child.”[2] And he also said: “Whoever has killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found for a span of forty years.”[3] Also, the Prophet Muhammad has forbidden punishment with fire.[4] He once listed murder as the second of the major sins,[5] and he even warned that on the Day of Judgment, “The first cases to be adjudicated between people on the Day of Judgment will be those of bloodshed.[6]”[7] Muslims are even encouraged to be kind to animals and are forbidden to hurt them. Once the Prophet Muhammad said: “A woman was punished because she imprisoned a cat until it died. On account of this, she was doomed to Hell. While she imprisoned it, she did not give the cat food or drink, nor did she free it to eat the insects of the earth.”[8] He also said that a man gave a very thirsty dog a drink, so God forgave his sins for this action. The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was asked, “Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?” He said: “There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.”[9] Additionally, while taking the life of an animal for food, Muslims are commanded to do so in a manner that causes the least amount of fright and suffering possible. The Prophet Muhammad said: “When you slaughter an animal, do so in the best way. One should sharpen his knife to reduce the suffering of the animal.”[10] In light of these and other Islamic texts, the act of inciting terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of buildings and properties, the bombing and maiming of innocent men, women, and children are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam and the Muslims. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the vast majority have nothing to do with the violent events some have associated with Muslims. If an individual Muslim were to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty of violating the laws of Islam.

  • Rose Rao

    Sep 18, 2012 7:55

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ahmed Ali's analysis of how this should have been handled.

  • Ali

    Sep 18, 2012 7:46

    All the team involved in the making of film should be punished and the local authorities must take serious action against them.i don't know why and how the film was not censored before its release which is causing unrest in whole world. Making a mockery of Islam and insulting Muslims sentimental values has become a trend for many non-Muslims. Islam preaches peace and love, not a single verse of Quran e Kareem or the sayings of our beloved Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him) is against Humanity.

  • tayyab ali

    Sep 18, 2012 5:03

    very bad

  • Mona

    Sep 18, 2012 4:13

    While watching the 14 minutes of this "offensive movie"... I felt a sense of detachment, as it did not feel real.... the reason being that I could not attribute any of those scenes or dialogues to our beloved Prophet (saw) nor to the great people in Islam. Definitely, a sense of anger filled my heart and made me very upset.... and I made a dua, that Allah (swt) severely punish all those people connected with this film. Though I feel bad that innocent people are being killed, as Islam teaches... no one has the right to take another person's life.

  • Junaid Ashraf

    Sep 18, 2012 4:12

    SubhanAllah!...Didn't Allah SWA said in His book in Surah AL KAUSAR ''Indeed it is your enemy who is bereft of all goodness". During the time of JAHILIYA [ignorance], how people treated the Prophet (PBUH) is not hidden from any man in this world, but Allah SWA has put his beloved Prophet's (PBUH) name along with His name which cant be separated ever. Being a Muslim, Prophet's love should be on top of all the rest, then it will show that your Emaan is complete. Let Allah deal with the enemies of His Prophet (PBUH) and his companions whom Allah has already promissed Jana. Satan has done his work and Allah SWA will do His and Indeed Allah's Command is top of all.

  • wasi

    Sep 18, 2012 3:52

    the whole world is protesting against this movie ;; violations are going around the globe ;; and google management says that they didnt find any thing bad in this movie and will not ban the movie on you tube..... what a thinking sirjee....

  • Syed

    Sep 18, 2012 3:35

    The Producer, Director, Actors, Actresses, Financial Donors, Partners etc. ALL SHOULD BE PUNISHED. And the movie should be immediately removed from YOU TUBE and other sites wherever it can be seen.


    Sep 18, 2012 3:02

    No one is perfect, please be cool and forgive everybody for everything.

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Latest Comment

The author of this article might not aware about the true, honest and sincere personality of Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W)/(P.B.U.H) and I should feel so sad about the words the author used while describing the movie, The authors must be qualified and their contents should be proof-read by the editors prior publishing in GulfNews. May Allah keep us on right path.


19 September 2012 17:04 jump to comments