The anti-Islam film that has sparked considerable outrage and violence across the Middle East and Islamic world appears to be a product of several Christian anti-Muslim activists.
Although the false claim that the film Innocence of Muslims was the work of an “Israeli Jew” received widespread attention in the U.S. and abroad, recent reports indicate that the film was created, produced and promoted by individuals connected to a network of anti-Muslim organizations.
The film, which was produced during the summer of 2011 and portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a child-molester, homosexual and philanderer, was advertised in the Anaheim-based Arab World newspaper under its original title, The Innocence of Bin Laden. The advertisement described the movie as revealing the true identity of the terrorists behind the killing of Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. The advertisement also indicated that the film would be shown during Ramadan, and provided a screening date of June 30 at the Vine Theatre in Los Angeles.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old California-based Coptic Christian, appears to be the one responsible for creating the impression that the film was created and supported by Jews. According to American officials in an interview with the Arabic-language television station Al Hurra, Nakoula is the alleged producer and filmmaker of the anti-Islam film. Nakoula initially exposed his role to international media under the pseudonym Sam Bacile, a fictitious individual that the Associated Press had initially reported was “an Israeli filmmaker based in California.” In the interview with the AP, Nakoula, speaking under a pseudonym, said the film cost $5 million to make “and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors.” These claims have since been disproved with the revelation that Sam Bacile does not exist.
Nasralla is a self-described “Coptic Christian activist from Egypt” and founder of the California-based The Way TV, a satellite television station devoted to matters concerning Egypt’s Coptic community. He is also the founder and chief executive of the California-based Media for Christ, the conservative Christian production company reportedly responsible for producing Innocence of Muslims. Nasralla is connected to prominent anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and their conspiratorial anti-Muslim organization, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). According to Geller, Nasralla popped onto her radar following his attendance at the SIOA’s June 6, 2010 “D-Day Rally” in front of the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan. In a letter addressed to Geller and Spencer following the rally, Nasralla described himself as a refugee from “the oppression of Islam” and said that he seeks to “expose to the American public what kind of instigation we [Coptic Christians] suffered at the hands of hateful Muslim preachers…” Since 2010, Nasralla has been invited to speak at various SIOA events, including at SIOA’s 2010 and 2011 September 11 rallies in New York.
Sadek, head of the U.S.-based National Coptic Assembly, an anti-Muslim organization that claims to represent and speak on behalf of Egyptian Christian Copts, was instrumental in the film’s accessibility to the Arabic-speaking world. Sadek released the 14-minute trailer of the film on YouTube on September 5 with Arabic subtitles. Sadek claims to be the president of a Coptic state in Egypt and asserts that this independent Coptic state is under the occupation of “Arab Muslim invaders.” According to Sadek’s website, he frequently writes letters to Israeli leaders appealing for their assistance in “liberating the Coptic state.” He also has a working relationship with controversial Qur’an burning Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center and has participated in demonstrations held by Jones and his church. On his personal website, Sadek has voiced his support for Jones’ distasteful mockery of the Prophet Muhammad. Sadek also attended the 2010 ACT! for America National Conference. ACT! promotes the idea that Islam is a backward and seditious political ideology and that Muslim immigration to the U.S. must end.
Steve Klein is a California-based anti-Muslim Christian activist and former U.S. Marine who claims that he provided consulting services for the production of Innocence of Muslims. In a recent interview following the outbreak of violence in Cairo and Benghazi, Klein described the film as being designed to spark outrage. In addition to his alleged role in the film’s technical production, Klein is founder and board member of Courageous Christians United (CCU), an organization that protests outside of mosques, abortion clinics and Mormon temples. CCU issued a statement today denouncing the film and indicating that Klein had been removed from the board. Many of the links on the group’s website redirect readers to sites designed to convince Muslims, Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses to convert to Christianity. Klein is also the founder of Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment (CCFA), an anti-Muslim group whose primary initiative is to warn high school students that they are being brainwashed through courses and lesson on Islamic history. He has spoken at conferences on the subject of Islam at the Church at Kaweah, a militant Christian church base in California.