A low-quality film mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad reportedly sparked some Libyan Islamist extremists to attack the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats. Earlier on Tuesday, a group of Egyptians scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag, angry over the same movie.
So what is this film, and who made it?
The English-language film, portions of which have been online since July, attracted attention in Egypt only over the past few days when someone posted a segment of the movie that had been dubbed into Arabic, according to the New York Times. Some Egyptian TV hosts began airing clips of the film over and over, portraying it as a Coptic Christian and American plot to denigrate the prophet. (Morris Sadek, a Coptic Christian from Egypt and critic of Islam who now lives in the United States, told AP he recently began promoting the two-hour film, which might also explain its rise out of obscurity.) The amateur-seeming "Innocence of Muslims" film shows the Prophet Muhammad as a homosexual who endorses extramarital sex and pedophilia, along with other slurs against Islam. (Many Muslims consider physical or visual representations of Muhammad to be blasphemous.)
Though at first it was unclear who made the movie, the Wall Street Journal tracked down andinterviewed Israeli-American real estate developer Sam Bacile, who claimed that he wrote, directed and produced the film. The 52-year-old Bacile told the Journal that he made the film to portray Islam as a hateful religion: