The film that prompted violent anti-American protests and murder in the Middle East depicts the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, callous, skirt-chasing fraud.
Filmmaker Sam Bacile, a California resident who is now reportedly in hiding, posted a trailer of his film, “Innocence of Muslims,” to YouTube on July 2.
In the trailer, Muhammad is depicted seducing a married woman and a young girl, in each scene inventing Quran passages to justify his sexual desires.
On Tuesday, the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, protesters purportedly angered by the film scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Egypt, tore down its American flag and replaced it with a black flag commonly used by Islamic terrorists.
In Libya, terrorists murdered the U.S. ambassador to that country, Chris Stevens, in a Tuesday evening attack. Three other embassy employees were killed. Stevens was fleeing the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which had been overrun by protesters shooting machine guns.
For Muslims, mere depictions of Muhammad are considered offensive. More incendiary depictions often precede violence. In 2005, worldwide riots erupted after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of Muhammad.
Bacile told The Associated Press that he identifies as an Israeli Jew and that the film cost $5 million to produce, funded by more than 100 Jewish donors.
“This is a political movie,” Bacile told the AP. “The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”
Steve Klein, a consultant who helped Bacile produce the film, told the AP, “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”
UPDATE: Klein tells Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic that “Bacile” is a pseudonym, and that he doesn’t believe the filmmaker is actually Jewish or Israeli.