Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Sam Bacile, Elia Bassili: 'Innocence of Islam' film leads to charges

(CNN) -- Egyptian authorities have charged seven Coptic Christians living in the United States and a Florida pastor with insulting Islam and inciting sectarian strife for their alleged links to an online video that has enraged much of the Muslim world.

Egypt's public prosecutor announced the charges Tuesday, the latest development in the deadly backlash against the low-budget, amateurish 14-minute movie trailer produced privately in the United States and posted on YouTube.

The clip from "The Innocence of Muslims" mocks the Muslim Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.

"Innocence of Muslims" was an obscure Internet video until September 11, when rioters, seizing on it, breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Protesters also attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The charges -- largely symbolic because the accused all live abroad -- name alleged filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is identified by Egyptian officials as Elia Bassili.


Reports that Nakoula is a Coptic Christian have raised concern about a possible backlash against the minority religious group in Egypt, where tensions between Copts and Muslims have risen recently.

Egypt also charged Morris Sadek, who is believed to have posted the clip to YouTube.

The Florida pastor charged is Terry Jones, who was allegedly contacted by the filmmaker to help promote the video. Jones sparked some protests in Muslim countries last year when he staged a trial of Islam at his church.

The others accused were identified as Morcos Aziz; Fikri Zokloma, also known as Esmat Zokloma; Nabil Bissada; Nahed Metwali; and Nader Nicola.

In addition to charges of insulting the Islamic religion, insulting Mohammed and inciting sectarian strife, all eight are charged with harming national unity and spreading false information, according to Adel Saaed, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Egyptian authorities added the names to their airport watch list.


Prosecutors said they will ask the international police agency, Interpol, to add the names to its wanted lists. U.S. authorities would also be contacted, according to prosecutors.

Although Washington has made it clear that it did not sanction the film, a week of protests have rippled from Morocco to Malaysia, spurring U.S. officials to increase security at diplomatic missions and demand other governments to take action.

Sherif Doss, head of the Egyptian Coptic Association in Cairo, said the accused Copts have created their own "cult-like" organization in the United States, have appointed their own minister and are "disregarding any church or religious norms."
 
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