WASHINGTON: A film at the center of anti-US protests in the Middle East which have precipitated in the murder of a diplomat was made by an Israeli-American, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” was directed and produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from southern California.
“Islam is a cancer,” Bacile had told the newspaper of his crudely-produced film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
He was speaking after protesters tore down the US flag at America’s Cairo embassy in protest at the film, which earlier was said to have been produced by expatriate members of Egypt’s Christian minority resident in the United States.
An armed mob also attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing the American ambassador there.
Bacile told the Journal he was responsible for the film — an excerpt of which has been viewable online since July — saying he had raised $5 million to make it from about 100 Jewish donors, who he declined to identify.
He said he had worked with some 60 actors and 45 crew to make the two-hour movie in a three-month period last year in California. “The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie,” he said.
It is being promoted by controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has drawn protests in the past for burning the Koran and vehemently opposing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.
Jones said he planned to show a 13-minute clip of the film Tuesday evening at his church in Gainesville, Florida.
The New York Times reported in its blog that the film excerpt had drawn little attention since being posted in July, but was picked up after a version dubbed into Arabic was put online last week.
A scene from the film — which uses very basic production techniques and stilted dialogue — was also was broadcast on the Egyptian television channel Al-Nas, it noted.
On Sunday, Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa denounced “the actions undertaken by some extremist Copts who made a film offensive to the Prophet.”
A spokeswoman for Jones, Fran Ingram, said she could not confirm who produced the film.
“We are showing it as part of an event that we’re doing currently, it’s livestreamed on our website standupamericanow.org… they’re going to show that trailer, the one that they’re angry about right now in Egypt.
“It’s a life of Mohammed. It’s kind of a satire, satirical movie,” she told AFP.
In 2010 Jones drew widespread condemnation over his aborted plan to burn a pile of Muslim holy books to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Jones canceled his plans under pressure from world leaders, but the mere threat to burn the Quran nonetheless sparked large protests in Afghanistan.