Film on Muslim Prophet sparks protests

CAIRO Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:37pm IST

An Afghan woman browses the YouTube website at a public internet cafe in Kabul September 12, 2012. Afghanistan banned the YouTube website on Wednesday to stop Afghans watching a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad that sparked protests in North Africa and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

An Afghan woman browses the YouTube website at a public internet cafe in Kabul September 12, 2012. Afghanistan banned the YouTube website on Wednesday to stop Afghans watching a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad that sparked protests in North Africa and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Clips of a film that stirred a deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya show an amateurish production portraying the Prophet Mohammad as a womaniser, a homosexual and a child abuser.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures or other characterisations deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians in the Middle East.

The U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, who angered many Muslims with his threat in 2010 to burn the Koran, called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of Mohammad. He said he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.

His "International Judge Mohammad Day", flagged on his www.standupamericanow.org before it took place on September 11, the day in 2001 that al Qaeda attacked U.S. cities, was condemned by Al-Azhar, Egypt's prestigious seat of Islamic learning in a statement issued before protests erupted.

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church also issued a statement condemning some Copts living abroad who it said financed "the production of a film insulting Prophet Mohammad". The U.S. embassy in Cairo was also target of a demonstration on Tuesday.

Clips of the film, called "Innocence of Muslims" but which has also been given other titles on some sites, had been circulating on the Internet for weeks before protests erupted.

Some calls by activists to protest in Egypt had made the link between Jones and the movie.

U.S. media said the film was produced by an Israeli-American property developer. Internet links indicated it was by Sam Bacile, a name that could have Egyptian origins.

According to clips, the movie's first section, set in the modern era, showed an Egyptian Coptic Christian fleeing from an angry Muslim mob. Egyptian police looked on while the mob smashed up a clinic where a Christian doctor worked.

Then it showed the doctor talking to his daughter about what makes an "Islamic terrorist".

After that, the clips shifted to historical scenes from the period of the Prophet, most of these were based on sets where the actors are clearly superimposed on a desert background.

The Prophet is referred to as an illegitimate "bastard", shown as a philanderer with women and portrayed as a homosexual. One scene shows him in an apparent sexual act with one of his wives and later with other women.

In another scene, a Christian priest offers to draw up a religious text drawing on verses from the Jewish Torah and Christian New Testament to make them into what he calls "false verses" - an apparent reference to the genesis of the Koran.

In other scenes, he is portrayed as a bloodthirsty leader, encouraging his followers to loot places they attack and says they can use children in whatever way they wish.

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