World Jewish News
News media gather outside the home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, in Cerritos, California. US Federal authorities had concluded that he was behind the anti-Islam film.
US initial media report about ‘American Israeli’ responsible for anti-Islam film was 'not correct'
14.09.2012, Israel and the World
Mystery has deepened over the true identity of the filmmaker responsible for an anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" which fanned violent protests against US embassies over the Middle East, with conflicting accounts from backers and promoters but no one owning up to having actually directed it.
The low-budget movie, in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent. It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, while showing him sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as "the first Muslim animal."
US media initially cited someone claiming to be an American-Israeli calling himself Sam Bacile as saying he made the film on a $5 millionbudget with the help of 100 Jews, but no record of such a person has been found.
Coptic Christians have been accused of promoting an Arabic-adapted version of the English-language film in Egypt, where clips were shown on an Egyptian television channel at the weekend, apparently setting off the protests.
And a late Wednesday report cited by US media identified Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as saying he managed the company that produced the film. The report says he is a Coptic Christian with a criminal record who has used similar aliases in the past.
The 55-year-old man, who lives in southern Los Angeles, was identified by federal authorities as part of a network of people involved in creating the video.
Nakoula apparently used a series of pseudonyms in his dealings with other people — including fellow backers and some of the actors — as the movie was produced in the summer of 2011 in the remote hills of Los Angeles County. He identified himself as "Sam Bacile", an apparent pseudonym.
In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed concern that the news media «have not done enough to put to rest the myth that an “Israeli Jew” and 100 Jewish investors were behind the film.
"We are greatly concerned that this false notion that an Israeli Jew and 100 Jewish backers were behind the film now has legs and is gathering speed around the world," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"In an age where conspiracy theories, especially ones of an anti-Semitic nature, explode on the Internet in a matter of minutes, it is crucial for those news organizations who initially reported on his identity to correct the record,"' he said, adding that "it is not a question of freedom of speech" but rather a question of "responsibility."
"News organizations need to clearly correct the record so that this myth does not morph into another Big Lie blaming and scapegoating Israelis and Jews."
"Even after reports later surfaced that the filmmaker was not Israeli or Jewish, news organizations across the Arab world and anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists have continued to describe him as such," said Foxman.
ADL cited an Egyptian Coptic news website titling a report about the filmmaker’s decision to go into hiding with: "As the Jews always do: Israeli anti-Islam filmmaker hides in fear."
In a letter to The Associated Press, the news organization that was among the first to break the story with an exclusive interview with "Sam Bacile," ADL called on the editors to make every attempt to correct the record, including appending a correction to original versions of the story so that "anyone reading it now or in the future will be aware that the reports about Jewish involvement in the film were untrue."
The false assertions by the filmmaker were cited by dozens of international and U.S. media outlets, leading to an anti-Semitic outpouring on the Internet and around the world.
Naguib Gibrael, a prominent Coptic leader and the president of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, was quoted as saying that a "Jewish producer" and "international Zionism" were responsible for producing the film. Various comments on anti-Semitic forums have decried the "wealthy Jews" who financed the film in an effort to "stir up hatred between Muslims and Americans."