An actor depicting the Prophet Muhammad (Photo Credit: YouTube)
On Tuesday, Americans remembered the lives of those individuals who were mercilessly killed during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
But on the same day that the 11th anniversary of the tragedy was being remembered, two notable, anti-American events unfolded in the Middle East — in Egypt, Islamists tore down the American flag at the U.S. embassy and, in Libya, radicals burned down the U.S. consulate and killed a U.S. diplomat. These actions were taken, not as a result of the 9/11 anniversary, but in retribution for an obscure anti-Islam and anti-Prophet Muhammad film that was produced in America.
Sam Bacile, 56, the movie’s writer and director, has gone into hiding following the violent reaction to his film. An Israeli, Bacile lives in California and works in real estate development. While filmmaking isn’t his main source of income, he put together the inflammatory movie in an effort to expose negative attributes that he believes come from and are associated with the Islamic faith.
The self-described Israeli Jew told the Associated Press, from an undisclosed location, that Islam is a cancer and that the film was intended to make a political statement, while condemning Islam on the whole. The English-language movie spans two hours and is entitled, “Innocence of Muslims.” Bacile claims that more than 100 Jewish donors helped put up the $5 million to make the film, which has reached no measurable level of success, possible.
“This is a political movie,” Bacile told the AP. “The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”
Naturally, considering his view that the faith is a “cancer” and examining the fact that he intentionally sought to target Islam, there’s no surprise that the content presented within the film is disparaging and offensive, to say the least. Muhammad, Islam’s most revered prophet, is made to look like a fraud. His followers, too, are depicted as fools.
“Innocence of Muslims” depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage. In a 13 minute 51 second trailer, the Islamic prophet is made to look like a murderer and adulterer as well.
Among the insults are insinuations that the Koran is made up and that Muhammad is anything but prophetic — two notions that chip away at the very fabrics of the Islamic faith.
Under the YouTube account “sam bacile,” a supposed trailer for the controversial film is posted (caution: sexual and disturbing content):
It is a well-known fact that Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insult the prophet. A Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet triggered riots in many Muslim countries. And this, of course, is only one example.
Though Bacile was apologetic about the American who was killed as a result of the outrage over his film (reports allege that three other American embassy workers were killed in Libya as well), he blamed lax embassy security and the perpetrators of the violence.
“I feel the security system (at the embassies) is no good,” said Bacile. “America should do something to change it.”
A consultant on the film, Steve Klein, said the filmmaker is concerned for family members who live in Egypt. Bacile declined to confirm. Klein said he vowed to help Bacile make the movie but warned him that “you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh.” Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam.
“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” Klein said.
On Tuesday, there seemed to be confusion surrounding which film had inspired violent protests in the Middle East. Some claimed that the anti-Islam, Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones, whom TheBlaze has frequently covered, was behind the movie. However, Jones is merely promoting the film; he was not involved in its production.
The Atlantic has more about the movie, with additional background details about how Bacile’s offensive project sparked deadly Middle Eastern protests:
The movie is called Innocence of Muslims, although some Egyptian media have reported its title as Mohammed Nabi al-Muslimin, or Mohammed, Prophet of the Muslims. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because most of the few clips circulating online are dubbed in Arabic. [...]Obviously, there‘s a lot to this story that’s still unclear. What we do know is that some members of Egypt’s sometimes-raucous, often rumor-heavy media have been playing highly offensive clips from the highly offensive film, stressing its U.S. and Coptic connections. In the clip below, controversial TV host Sheikh Khaled Abdallah (known for such statements as “Iran is more dangerous to us than the Jews” and that Tehran had engineered a deadly soccer riot in Port Said) hypes the film as an American-Coptic plot and introduces what he says is its opening scene.
Bacile‘s film was dubbed into Egyptian Arabic by someone he doesn’t know, but he speaks enough Arabic to confirm that the translation is accurate. It was made in three months in the summer of 2011, with 59 actors and about 45 people behind the camera.
The full film has been shown once, to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year, said Bacile.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.