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Storm over obscene film calming down.

Summary: The storm of anger that hit the Muslim world in reaction to a 13-minute movie trailer offending Islam is calming down.

But the deadly attacks on the US embassy in Libya and clashes in other Arab countries have harmed Islam more than the obscene film itself, according to a protester who took part in last Tuesday's demonstration outside the US embassy in Cairo.

"We wanted to send a message to the US that Prophet Mohamed represents a red line, but nobody expected people to grab the US flag and burn it," Karim Abdel Rahman, a 21-year-old medical student at Cairo University, told the Egyptian Mail.

Angry protesters were shouting "nothing but the Messenger of Allah," and "with soul and blood we sacrifice ourselves for Islam" when a group of unidentified young people ripped the flag down and set it on fire. Some witnesses at the scene said they were members of the Ultras White Knights, but Abdel Rahman dismissed such reports.

"Anyone can identify the Ultras by their appearance. I saw the men who burned the flag, they had beards. I think they were Salafists. Ironically, a demonstrating Salafist friend right next to me thought they were Ikhwan (Muslim Brothers)," Abdel Rahman explained.

All political powers in Egypt denied any connection with those who burned the US flag and claimed the demonstration was peaceful.

But the so-called peaceful demonstrations turned violent and the riots continued for several days before security forces could end them on Saturday. Hundreds were injured and dozens got arrested.

"I took part on Tuesday. It was massive. By 8pm, I was at home. I understand that the US embassy had nothing to do with the film. But we wanted to convey our message to those in power," said Michael Fayez, a 25-year-old pharmacist.

"As a Copt I find the movie totally obscene. Whoever made it, wanted to put a wedge between Muslims and Copts. Obviously they failed, because many demonstrators at the embassy were Copts," Fayez said.

The low-budget film was apparently directed by Alan Roberts, infamous for his soft porn films. It was produced by an Egyptian Copt, Nikola Bassely Nikola, who lives in California. Morris Sadek, a lawyer related to the so-called Coptic Republic of Egypt, was reportedly the film's co-producer.

"We have nothing to do with the film. It may have been produced by Copts living in the US, but they do not represent us or follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are not real Christians," Fayez said.

Expatriates, particularly Copts, reacted similar outrage. Some US media reports exposed those involved in the movie, amongst others Zakaria Botros, who is known for attacking Islam and the Holy Qur'an.

"The Copts are Egyptians and respect Islam and the Prophet Mohamed. Zakaria Botros was defrocked by Pope Shenouda, may the Lord bless his soul. We do not consider Botros a priest anymore," said Nermeen Ayyad, a 35-year-old doctor living in San Francisco, California.

The movie trailer was uploaded to YouTube by someone using the fake name of Sam Bacile. It was broadcast live on Terry Jones' Internet channel StandUpAmericaNow as part of 9/11 commemorations.

US authorities stated that Sam Bacile is Nikola, who was jailed for bank fraud in 2009.

"Many Copts and Muslims in America are very successful, but some are less fortunate. This man Nikola is a very bad example. I feel so sorry for what happened," Nermeen said, adding that the actors of the movie were duped.

"We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and the lies we were told. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that occurred," the 80-person cast announced in a statement.

They said they would sue Nikola for deceiving them, as the script originally featured a desert drama that took place in Egypt 2,000 years ago, Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who played a role in the film, told Gawker website. According to her, the movie was re-cut and made anti-Islamic.

"Here in the US everybody is busy making a living. We are very sad that all Copts living in the US are accused of being involved in the production of that filthy video about the Prophet Mohamed. I feel so sorry that some racists like Terry Jones use Copts to attack Islam," said Mounir Youssef, an engineer living in New Jersey.

Jones, a Florida-based pastor who burned copies of the Holy Qur'an last year, held a mock trial of the Prophet Mohamed [Peace Be Upon Him] for alleged crimes against humanity.

Jones said on his Facebook page that he took this step out of his conviction that the teachings of Islam were the main reason behind the 9/11 attacks.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Sep 18, 2012
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