The Paw Print
In July of this year video clips of the film “Innocence of Muslims” were uploaded onto YouTube and no one could have imagined the repercussions that the video would cause worldwide.
When Arabic dubbed versions of the clips began to appear in early September it took only 11 days for the riots and protests to begin. The video clips have been linked as the potential cause to the attacks on the US embassy in Libya and other anti-American violence across the Middle East.
The film clip opens with a scene depicting Egyptian Muslims attacking Egyptian Christians and burning down a Christian hospital. The majority of the film proceeds to depict the main character, who is referred to as the prophet Muhammad, and some controversial dialogue about the Muslim religion. It is apparent that a fair amount of the offensive material was done with a voice overlay. The actors are seen mouthing words that do not match up to the audio that accompanied the film.
People who participated in the film have expressed a certain amount of outrage, claiming that they had no idea that this was the original intent and that they are uncomfortable with the way the film has progressed, and the negative attention that it has generated worldwide.
The filmmaker resides in the Las Angeles area and is associated with the group Coptic Christians and is using the alias Sam Bacile. His real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and he is a native of Egypt, one of the countries that have reacted quite strongly in protest to the video. Bacile has gone into hiding as a result of the overwhelmingly negative response to video, and who can blame him with a $100,000 bounty on his head.
The bounty has been offered by a Pakistani government official, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. Bilour released the statement concerning the bounty on Saturday, Sept. 22 at a news conference. In his statement Bilour made sure to specify that he was speaking as an individual not as a government representative. In regards to the illegal nature of the bounty Bilour stated “I am a Muslim first, then a government representative.”
The Pakistani government does not support Bilour in his decision to place a bounty on the filmmaker’s head. In fact the Prime Minister has publicly condemned Bilour and his decision, and plans to take up the issue with the head of Bilour’s political party.
Where does the US government stand on this issue? By law they are required to uphold Nakoula’s first amendment right to freedom of speech yet there is a desire to condemn the message that the video contains. This has put the Obama administration in a somewhat sticky situation particularly with the upcoming election. How are they to disparage the video without causing outrage at suppressing Nakoula’s constitutional rights?
As a result Nakoul has not been subjected to any legal ramifications, but the US government has not offered any exceptional assistance to Nakoul and his family, such as taking them into protective custody. They have assisted his family in reuniting with Nakoul and escorting him to a parole meeting for his prior offenses in fraud.
The issue has yet to be resolved, and there are still shockwaves of the video’s consequences that are being felt worldwide. With many Muslims calling for Nakoul to receive some sort of punishment and the US government unable to do much in terms of the video except look into it as a violation of his patrol, they are stuck in something of a stalemate.