By Susan Webb in the USA:
Who’s behind the film?
Friday 21 September 2012
The YouTube video, titled Innocence Of Muslims, is a crude 14-minute film portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a lecherous, violent schemer.
First reports attributed it to an Israeli-American individual in California who claimed it was funded by Jewish donors.
It turns out that these individuals do not exist, and the real architects of the film include a right-wing Egyptian-American Christian convicted of bank fraud in 2010, and a US religious right activist with ties to Christian militias and Obama-hating clergy.
Justice Department investigators say Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who lives in southern California, was a key player on the film. He is still under a five-year probation from the 2010 fraud case, which includes barring him from internet use.
Another right-wing Coptic Egyptian-American, Morris Sadek, spread the video to the Middle East via his anti-Islam Arabic-language blog.
The film is also linked to Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih, another far-right Egyptian-American Coptic Christian who has been promoted by many of the country’s most vocal anti-Muslim agitators.
The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America has issued a statement condemning the film and affirming that “such efforts to insult and offend a neighbour with which the Copts have coexisted for nearly 14 centuries … contradict the virtues of love and tolerance by which Christians are governed.”
Sadek apparently has close ties to extremist anti-Obama Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has promoted the film. Sadek’s blog displays a photo of him with Jones at a recent anti-Islam protest in Washington.
A writer for US advocacy group Right-Wing Watch looked at Sadek’s Facebook page before it was taken down. It showed Sadek as a fan of the Republican Party, the right-wing Hudson Institute, right-wing ideologue Daniel Pipes, Jones’s extremist Stand Up America and similar groups.
Steve Klein, an ex-marine described as a “consultant” on the film, “has been active in extremist movements for decades” and “is allied with Christian activist groups across California,” according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which tracks extremist groups.
The report says that in 2011 Klein worked with the California-based Christian Anti-Defamation Commission “on a campaign to ‘arm’ students with the ‘truth about Islam and Muhammad’ – mainly by leafleting high schools with literature depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed paedophile.”
The group’s advisory board includes figures from a long list of far-right groups, including the Operation Rescue anti-abortion bombers, the Minuteman border vigilantes and far-right minister Rick Scarborough.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre report, Klein has recently formed close ties to the Church at Kaweah, “a secretive cohort of militant Christian fundamentalists” that maintains a militia.
Its website offers for sale a DVD titled To Teach Them War in which “Christian audiences will be exhorted and equipped to begin to train martially.”
Klein conducts drills with the Christian Guardians, a San Francisco-based group headed by a US-born Pakistani Christian who calls Islam “a giant crime syndicate” and hopes his group will become “the most feared militia in the world.” The Church at Kaweah has sponsored joint trainings with the Christian Guardians.
Klein also has ties to extremist anti-abortion and anti-immigrant groups such as the Minutemen.
He has a weekly online satellite TV show called Wake Up America carried on The Way TV station, which says it is “made up of Christians from around the world who believe God can use Christian satellite television to transform the Middle East, north Africa, Europe, America and Canada.” Nasralla is listed as producer.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday appeared to identify the film as representing “America’s values.”
Continuing his criticism of the Obama administration for condemning the film, Romney declared: “Apology for America’s values is never the right course.”
He was backed by Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who said: “It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims.”
Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus echoed the far-right mantra, saying: “Obama sympathises with attackers in Egypt.”
Former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld also tweeted support.
Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, told the New York Times: “This is really about political or symbolic opportunists, who use religious symbols to advance their own power or prestige against other groups.”
He was referring to the Libyan events, but the same clearly applies to the US.
By Sunny Hundal:
Some 30,000 Libyans marched in the city of Benghazi to protest against the extremist militias that are starting to terrorise ordinary people.
The march was a backlash to the attack on the US Embassy ten days ago, and Libyans carried signs saying: “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.”
Why the Mideast Exploded, Really: here.
Just as McCarthyism Claimed to Fight Godless Communists, Boykinism Condones War on Idolatrous Muslims: here.
Although progressive Christians have been at the forefront of social justice, conservative Christians are often on the wrong side of history: here.
- US releases anti-Islam film-maker (rinf.com)
- We Have A Dumb Religion Problem – Not A Political Problem (huffingtonpost.com)
- This Is the Man Who Reportedly Translated & Sent the Anti-Muhammad Film to Egyptian Journalists (theblaze.com)
- Filmmaker Allegedly Behind ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Previously Charged With Dealing Meth, Fraud (theblaze.com)