LOS ANGELES (AP)-An Israeli filmmaker based in California went into hiding Tuesday after his movie attacking Islam’s prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya in which U.S.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.
Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing the Americans on Tuesday. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.
“This is a political movie,” said Bacile. “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.”
Bacile, a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam’s flaws to the world.
“Islam is a cancer, period,” he said repeatedly, his solemn voice thickly accented.
The two-hour movie, Innocence of Muslims, cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Bacile, who wrote and directed it.
The film claims Muhammad was a fraud. An English-language 13-minute trailer on YouTube shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose followers are presented as a cadre of goons. It depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage.
Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insult the prophet. A Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet triggered riots in many Muslim countries.
A consultant on the film, Steve Klein, said the filmmaker is concerned for family members who live in Egypt. Klein said he vowed to help Bacile make the movie but warned him that “you're going to be the next Theo van Gogh.” Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam.
“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” Klein said.
*Pictured above is Steve Klein