Anti-Islam Film Sparks More Angry Protests

Questions Swirl Around Offensive Flick Mocking Muslims

Anger Spreads: Demonstrators rally outside U.S. embassy in Yemen over YouTube film that insults Muslims.
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Anger Spreads: Demonstrators rally outside U.S. embassy in Yemen over YouTube film that insults Muslims.

By JTA

Published September 13, 2012.
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Protests continued outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Yemen over an anti-Muslim film.

Protests over the film, which was said to have been made by a Jewish director with Jewish financial backing but was later disproved, had already led to the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. diplomats.

The protests in Cairo continued late Wednesday, a day after protesters climbed the embassy walls, tore down and tried to torch the American flag.

In Yemen Thursday protesters stormed the embassy gates, causing security guards to open fire on the demonstrators. The protesters tore down the American flag and burned it, according to reports.

Security reportedly has been increased at U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions around the globe.

The protests were sparked by the translation into Arabic of a trailer for the “Innocence of Muslims,” a two-hour film that attacks the Islamic prophet Muhammad, making him out to be a fraud.

Media outlets, including JTA, had reported that a man calling himself Sam Bacile, who said he was the film’s director and producer, claimed that he was an Israeli American real estate developer.

A consultant to the controversial film, Steve Klein, a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, Calif., told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that the film’s director is not Israeli and that the name is a pseudonym.

Bacile told the Associated Press that he went into hiding on Tuesday night, speaking to international media from an undisclosed location.

Klein told Goldberg that some 15 people were associated with the making of the film, all American citizens and most evangelicals.

Klein was called an “extremist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which said he is “Secretary and Founder” of Courageous Christians United, a group that protests outside of mosques and abortion clinics.

Meanwhile, in a statement sent to CNN, the 80 members of the cast and crew of the movie said that they were “grossly misled” about the movie, which they believed was a historical movie about life in the Arabian Desert. “We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred,” the statement said according to CNN.

Anti-Muslim dialogue was dubbed in after the filming, an unnamed actress, who also said there was no Muhammad character in the script, told CNN.

The actress said she spoke to the director Wednesday and “He said he wrote the script because he wants the Muslims to quit killing,” CNN reported. The director reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that “Islam is a cancer.”

A high-ranking Israeli official in Los Angeles told JTA Wednesday that extensive inquiries among Hollywood insiders and members of the local Israeli community failed to turn up a single person who knew a Sam Bacile.

The Israeli government in Jerusalem could not turn up any citizenship records under that name, while California officials reported that no real estate license had ever been issued to a Sam Bacile.

Media bloggers and columnists are questioning why Bacile would claim that the $5 million film was paid for by “100 Jewish donors,” calling it a set-up. Blogger Edward Blackthorn (www.publici.com) raised some basic questions as to why $5 million was needed for a film described as “unprofessional” by the Hollywood Reporter, and expressed doubt that any producer could find 100 financial backers for such a dubious enterprise.


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