Anti-Islam Filmmaker Has No Regrets

Egyptian Christian Says He Countered Muslim 'Atrocities'


By Reuters

Published November 26, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who made the anti-Islam film that sparked protests across the Muslim world has no regrets about his insulting portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad, according to an interview with the New York Times.

In his first public comments since the 14-minute trailer for his film, “Innocence of Muslims,” gained notoriety in September, Mark Basseley Youssef told the newspaper he wanted to reveal what he called “the actual truth” about Mohammad and raise awareness of the violence committed “under the sign of Allah.”

The film portrayed Mohammad as a womanizer, ruthless killer and child molester. The film touched off a torrent of anti-American unrest in Arab and Muslim countries. For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered blasphemous.

In explaining his reasons for the film, he cited “atrocities” by Muslims. After a Muslim gunman killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, “I became even more upset and enraged,” he said in written comments conveyed to the Times through his attorney. A Times request to interview him in person was blocked by prison authorities.

“I thought, before I wrote this script that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in,” said Youssef.

Youssef, a former gasoline station owner identified in some public records by his birth name, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, received a one-year prison sentence in early November for violating terms of his 2011 supervised release from prison on a bank fraud conviction. In the course of making the film, he made use of false identities and lied to his probation officer, both of which were prohibited under his probation.

As early as 2008, Youssef had completed a brief treatment for his movie, which he originally wanted to call “The First Terrorist.” After going through five versions of the script, he raised $80,000 to finance the film, apparently through his second ex-wife’s Egyptian family and donations from other Copts.

The shoot for “Innocence of Muslims” lasted only 15 days. Although only the film’s 14-minute trailer has been released online, a feature-length movie does exist, running about one hour and 40 minutes, the newspaper said.

Some actors were under the impression that they were performing in an adventure drama called “Desert Warriors” whose villain was named George. Youssef, who worked on the film under the alias Sam Baccil, later dubbed the name Muhammad whenever an actor said George.

At least one actress has sued Youssef, claiming her image and reputation were harmed and her safety put in jeopardy, citing a religious edict she said an Egyptian cleric had issued against anyone connected with the movie. Youssef, however, has no qualms about how he handled the cast.

“They had signed contracts before they went in front of any camera, and these contracts in no way prevented changes to the script or movie,” Youssef told the New York Times.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.