Clips of a film that stirred an attack on a U.S. mission in Libya and the killing of the U.S. ambassador showed a scrappy production portraying the Muslim Prophet Mohammad variously as a womanizer, a homosexual, a child abuser, a fool, a religious fake and bloodthirsty.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures or other characterizations deemed insulting in the past have enraged Muslims across the world, provoking protests and drawing condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians in the region.
The U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, who enraged many Muslims by 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 http://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 move’s first section, set in the modern era, showed an Egyptian Coptic Christians 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 philandering 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.