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Riots in Libya and Egypt broke out in protest of a little-seen, cheaply-made film produced by an real estate developer who claims to Israeli, leaving four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya, dead.
A well-respected diplomat who recently returned to Benghazi, Christopher Stevens was killed by an angry mob that was blasting rocket-propelled grenades at the US Embassy in the Libyan capital. The film, Innocence of Islam, written and directed by Sam Bacile, is a loose biography of the Prophet Muhammed, and indulges in many of the negative stereotypes about the holy Muslim figure: that he was a philanderer, homosexual, approved of child sexual abuse, and led a minion of goons.
Bacile told the Wall Street Journal that the film received a “nearly empty” screening in California in July. It was made with 60 actors and 45 crewmembers last year.
While it was nominally released in America in July, a dubbed trailer hit the web early this week, making the rounds on the web and airing on Egyptian television, outraging Muslims in both Libya and Egypt, where smaller riots broke out. Allegedly made for $5 million, raised from 100 Jewish donors, the film is meant to convey that “Islam is a cancer,” Bacile told interviewers on Tuesday.
Though Bacile claims he spent $5 million on the movie — a figure that would put the film’s budget on par with the Toronto International Film Festival entrant and Julianne Moore-starrer What Maisie Knew — the 13 minutes of footage available online look unprofessional. Furthermore, Bacile has virtually no footprint in the Hollywood community. The writer-director-producer has no agent listed on IMDBPro and no credits on any film or TV production.
Bacile has now gone into hiding.
The film is being promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has stoked up protests before by burning Korans. He planned on hosting a screening of the film on Tuesday night.
Extra security, in the form of Marines, has been sent to the US Embassy in Benghazi.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” President Obama said in a statement. “Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.”
In her own statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya. Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scared by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners. And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Some Libyans carried Chris’s body to the hospital and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety. Last night when I spoke with the President of Libya, he strongly condemned the violence and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those responsible.”
View the film’s trailer below:
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