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Mystery shrouds identity of anti-Islam film's producer

As angry demonstrations continue over controversial short movie, the identity of film's director – reportedly a US-Israeli dual-national – remains ambiguous

Ahram Online , Thursday 13 Sep 2012
Views: 2116
Views: 2116

Questions continue to surround the identity of the director of the film that has sparked widespread anger across the Muslim world due to its offensive portrayal of the Prophet Mohamed.

The film, which went viral earlier this week on YouTube, depicts Islam's prophet as a womaniser and child abuser.

The precise origins of the contentious film, however, remain unclear.

Initially, the roughly 13-minute film – entitled Innocence of Muslims– was thought to have been made by US-based Coptic-Christian activists and promoted by firebrand US pastor Terry Jones, already notorious for his frequent calls for mass burnings of Muslim holy book the Quran.

However, on Wednesday, reports emerged that the film had beenproduced by US-Israeli dual-national filmmaker Sam Bacile, reportedly a California-based real estate developer.

Bacile himself has refrained from issuing any statements to the press. But Steve Kelin, who reportedly worked on the film as a "consultant," told AP on Wednesday that Bacile, fearing for his safety, had gone into hiding.   

Yet another round of reports, which emerged on Wednesday and Thursday, seemed to suggest that 'Bacile' was a pseudonym used by a California-based Egyptian Coptic-Christian by the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, according to a report by AP.

Nakoula, 55, has admitted that he had managed logistics for the company that produced the film. According to AP, Nakoula was convicted of bank fraud in 2010 in California, for which he was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $790,000 fine.

It also reportedly emerged in the 2010 court case that Nakoula had frequently employed pseudonyms to hide his identity.      

Meanwhile, controversy continues to mount over the offensive film, with ongoing demonstrations – of varying degrees of intensity – seen in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

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