Sam Harris September 19, 2012 [1]

The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn.

Innocence of Muslims, also known as Innocence of bin Laden,[2] is an unwatchably bad Islamophobic film notable for allegedly inspiring violent protests in parts of the Islamic world during September 2012.

The film was probably made by Coptic Christian fraudster Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, although it was attributed to an Israeli-Californian real estate developer — whose name was given variously as "Sam Bacile", "Sam Bassiel" and "Sam Bassil" [3][4][5][2] — to express his belief that "Islam is a cancer."[6] Pastor Terry Jones (who previously publicly burned the Qu'ran and sparked fatal riots) has come out in support of the film.[7]

The film itself[]

Taslima Nasrin[8]

Unfortunately, the films critical of Islam are by the people who do not know how to make films... I have been waiting for decades to watch an Islamic version of ‘Life of Brian.’ Where are our Pythons?

Trailers for the film - including one that lasts for nearly fourteen minutes - have been posted online. As a work of cinema, the film is characterised by its rock bottom production values, awful dialogue, terrible acting, directing, dubbing and editing (on at least one occasion an actor flubbed his lines and nobody bothered to re-take the shot), and unconvincing green-screening effects, with actors superimposed onto stock footage of a desert. Reportedly, this film cost five million dollars.[6]

The film is a puerile and bigoted biography of the prophet Muhammed and his early followers, who are portrayed as brutish despots and child molestors. among other obscure actors and performers, it features gay porn star Tim Dax.[9] Chunks of the film are clearly dubbed by different actors - even though it was shot in English - and members of the cast later went on record as saying that they had no idea they were appearing in an anti-Islamic film, being given completely different lines.[10]

While films can be surprisingly expensive to make, the idea that such an obviously cheap film could cost five million dollars is hard to swallow.[11][12]

Despite the low quality of the film many westerners believe censorship would be worse than tolerating it. [13] An alternative suggestion is that the film is not Constitutionally guaranteed speech because it appears the authors intended to put lives and property at risk and this happened. The First Amendment does not allow such irresponsible speech. [14]

People involved with the film[]

—Sam Bacile, or whatever he's calling himself these days[6]

The US lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas

Early reports mentioned that Bacile identified himself as an Israeli Jew, but later on Steve Klein, who worked with him on the project, referred to the film-maker as a Christian; also confirmed that Bacile's name is a pseudonym. It was eventually confirmed that the manager of the company that produced the film is a Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula with a long list of fraud related convictions. [15] At this point the evidence suggests that Bacile is, in fact, Nakoula, although Nakoula denies this. [16]. Nakoula has been arrested and held for suspected breach of probation conditions.

Steve Klein who has past involvement hate groups and with action against abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques and helped train Christian paramilitaries is acting as a spokesman [17]

Violence spreading in the Middle East and North Africa[]

The film appears to have had a brief run in a single Hollywood cinema earlier in 2012[12] but became an instant cult classic when an Arabic translation of the trailer was posted to YouTube.[18] Turns out Muslims do not like people blaspheming Muhammad and Salafist supporters of extreme Sharia law used the film to gain popularity. [19] On 11 September 2012, riots broke out in front of the American embassy in Cairo and at a consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the American ambassador was murdered.[20] The epidemic of attacks on American embassies spread to several Middle Eastern and North African nations together with angry demonstrations in other Middle East and North African nations.[21] In Sudan, the German and British embassies were also attacked.[22] Big protests occurred on Friday 14th September and other western embassies were also attacked. [23] Pakistan blocked YouTube while protests continued throughout the Muslim world and the death toll mounted. [24] A suicide bomber killed 14 people in Kabul and as of 18/9/2012 at least 28 people died worldwide. [25] As of 21st September 2012 the French magazine Charlie Hebdo also published material mocking Muhammad, fueling further protests. Protests continued with United States and other embassies being attacked, even cinemas and theatres being set on fire.[26] The toll of dead and injured has risen steadily. [27] A Pakistani minister promised $100,000 (£61,616) payment to anyone including Taliban and AL-Qaeda who kill the maker of the film. The minister, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour considers this a "sacred duty". [28] he also demanded laws preventing insulting "our prophet". [29] Obama called on all leaders to speak out against violence and extremism. [30]

Only a minority of the people in the countries affected are involved in the protests but significant pressure groups are manipulating the protesters. The tensions are making it harder for new governments that arose after the Arab spring to stabilise. American laws on free speech apparently prevent the USA from stopping similar provocations in the future and repetitions of the trouble appear inevitable. [31]

See also[]


  1. On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God
  2. 2.0 2.1 CNN: New details emerge of anti-Islam film's mystery producer/index.html 14 September 2012
  3. Insert your own pun here.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Breaking News: Anti-muslim filmmaker goes into hiding 12 September 2012
  7. Staff and crew of film that ridiculed Muslims say they were 'grossly misled'
  8. No Country for Women: God’s soldiers! 15 September 2012
  10. CNN, Actor: Anti-Islam filmmaker 'was playing us all along'. 17 Sept. 2012
  11. Weigel: Who is Sam Bacile? 12 September 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Inside Movies: 'Innocence of Muslims' mystery: Who is Sam Bacile? September 12 2012
  13. Nothing, however vile, justifies censorshipThis is from the "Free Comment" section of The Guardian and does not necessarily represent the official Guardian viewpoint.
  14. Does 'Innocence of Muslims' meet the free-speech test?
  15. US identifies anti-Muslim filmmaker
  16. The Associated Press: California man confirms role in anti-Islam film. 13 September 2012
  17. Steve Klein & 'Innocence Of Muslims': Film Promoter Remains Outspoken On Islam
  18. NBC News: Questions swirl around anti-Islam film blamed for Egypt protest, attack in Libya 12 September 2012
  19. Middle East Response to “Innocence of Islam” Film Why Are US Embassies Under Attack
  20. New York Times: Obscure Film Mocking Muslim Prophet Sparks Anti-U.S. Protests in Egypt and Libya 11 September 2012
  21. AP: Protestors Storm US Embassy in Yemen.
  22. BBC News: US embassies attacked as anti-Islam film protests escalate 14 September 2012
  23. Protests over anti-Islam film: As it happened
  24. Anti-Islam film: Thousands protest around Muslim world
  25. The 'Innocence of Muslims' Riots
  26. 'Innocence of Muslims' Protesters Torch Theaters as Riots Escalate in Pakistan
  27. Pakistan film protests: 15 die in Karachi and Peshawar
  28. Anti-Islam film: Pakistan minister offers bounty
  29. Anti-Islam film: Pakistan minister's bounty condemned
  30. Obama's UN General Assembly speech condemns extremism
  31. Film protests: What explains the anger?

Adapted from RationalWiki