7 Egyptian Christians Sentenced To Death For Anti-Islam Film

CAIRO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

"The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet," Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said.

The low-budget video, produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Mohammad and triggered anti-U.S. protests and attacks on Western embassies around the Muslim world.

The convicted persons included Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is currently serving a one-year-jail term in Los Angeles after an American court convicted him of probation violations that stemmed from his role in the movie.

The 13-minute video portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called "Desert Warrior."

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church did not issue an official comment on the ruling.

"The Church denounced the movie, which it has nothing to do with. As for today's case, it is a court ruling and the Church does not comment on court decisions," said a Church source who asked not to be named.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million people and many complain of discrimination in work and treatment.

Anti-Islam film: Pakistan minister's bounty on producers

September 22, 2012
BBC News

A government minister on Pakistan has offered a $100,000 (£61,600) reward for the death of the maker of an anti-Islam film produced in the US.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour called on the Taliban and al-Qaeda to take part in what he called a "sacred duty", saying he would pay the bounty out of his own pocket.

The Pakistani government has condemned the remarks and suggested it may take action against Mr Bilour.

Orla Guerin reports from Islamabad.

Violence Breaks Out in Pakistan as Public Holiday Begins

Published: September 21, 2012
The New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A television station employee was shot dead on Friday in the northwestern city of Peshawar as violent crowds filled the streets of several cities on a day of government-sanctioned protests against an anti-Islam film made in the United States.

The unrest came as governments and Western institutions in many parts of the Muslim world braced for protests after Friday prayer — an occasion often associated with demonstrations as worshipers leave mosques. In Tunisia, the authorities invoked emergency powers to outlaw all demonstrations, fearing an outpouring of anti-Western protest inspired both by the American-made film and by cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a French satirical weekly.

American diplomatic posts in India, Indonesia and elsewhere closed for the day, news reports said, while thousands of Islamists gathered in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to chant slogans against the United States and France, burning the flags of both countries and an effigy of President Obama, Reuters said.

European countries took steps to forestall protests among their own Muslim minorities and against their missions abroad. France had already announced the closure on Friday of embassies and other institutions in 20 countries while, in Paris, some Muslim leaders urged their followers to heed a government ban on weekend demonstrations protesting against denigration of the prophet.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said officials throughout the country had orders to prevent all protests and crack down if the ban was challenged. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up,” he said.

The German Interior Ministry said it was postponing a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam to avoid fueling protests among the country’s 4 million Muslims, The Associated Press reported.

In Pakistan, the scene of the most turbulent unrest, ARY News said that a driver, Muhammad Amir, was shot three times by the police as he drove through an area where stick-wielding protesters were burning a movie theater owned by a prominent politician.

The station repeatedly broadcast graphic footage of hospital staff giving emergency treatment to Mr. Amir, apparently shortly before he died. Other Pakistani journalists condemned the footage as insensitive and irresponsible.

Businesses closed and streets emptied across the country as the government declared a national holiday, the “Day of Love for the Prophet Muhammad,” to encourage peaceful protests against the controversial film that has ignited protest across the Muslim world for more than a week.

“An attack on the holy prophet is an attack on the core belief of 1.5 billion Muslims. Therefore, this is something that is unacceptable,” said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in an address to a religious conference Friday morning in Islamabad.

Mr. Ashraf called on the United Nations and international community to formulate a law outlawing hate speech across the world. “Blasphemy of the kind witnessed in this case is nothing short of hate speech, equal to the worst kind of anti-Semitism or other kind of bigotry,” he said.

But the scenes of chaos in some parts of the country as the day progressed suggested that the government had failed to control public anger on the issue.

In Peshawar, where the television employee was killed, protesters attacked and burned two movie theaters, breaking through the windows with sticks and setting fire to posters that featured images of female movie stars.

Television footage showed the police firing in the air to disperse the crowd, and a hospital official said that at least 15 people, including three police officers, were injured.

In Islamabad, where thousands of protesters flooded toward the heavily guarded diplomatic enclave, Express News reported that the police ran out of rubber bullets because of heavy firing.

A television reporter said that when protesters in nearby Rawalpindi ran out of material to burn, they broke into several tire shops along a major road to steal fresh supplies.

The government cut off cellphone coverage in major cities, while authorities in Islamabad sealed all exits to the city after Friday prayers, state radio reported. Some Pakistanis were relying on e-mail and social media such as Twitter to communicate.

Expressions of weary anger over the violence were common. “We are not a nation. We are a mob,” said Nadeem F. Paracha, a cultural commentator with Dawn newspaper, on Twitter.

Large shipping containers blocked roads through the center of several cities. Western diplomatic missions were closed for the day.

The State Department spent $70,000 on Urdu-language advertisements that aired on several television channels, dissociating the United States government from the inflammatory film.

The Interior Ministry announced it had summoned the American chargé d’affaires, Richard Hoagland, asking him to have the anti-Islam film removed from YouTube, which has been entirely blocked in Pakistan for the past several days.

Anti-Islamic film provokes violence in Muslim world

September 15, 2012

(AP) BEIRUT -- The leader of the militant group Hezbollah made a rare public appearance Monday at an anti-American demonstration in Beirut to call for more protests against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.

"The world should know our anger will not be a passing outburst but the start of a serious movement that will continue," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said before a crowd of thousands of Lebanese protesters.

Nasrallah, whose group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, called on governments to censor websites hosting segments of an obscure video produced in California by an Egyptian Christian. The video denigrates Islam's prophet Mohammed.

"America, which uses the pretext of freedom of expression ... needs to understand that putting out the whole film will have very grave consequences around the world," said Nasrallah, who has been in hiding since Hezbollah's war with Israel in 2006.

Lebanese in the crowd chanted "Death to America, Death to Israel" as they marched through Beirut's Shiite suburbs. Many wore green and yellow headbands around their foreheads -- the colors of Hezbollah -- and the words "at your service God's prophet" written on them. Local Lebanese employees of the U.S. Embassy were sent home.

Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and embassies elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa started to destroy classified material as a security precaution, according to a State Department status report obtained Monday by the Associated Press. Hezbollah and its affiliates have conducted numerous terror attacks that have killed hundreds of people, including Americans.

Protests against the film continued in other parts of the world Monday as they have for days following the explosion last week of violent demonstrations in Egypt. The assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was followed by an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S.Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Libya says the attack was not connected to the film and was a planned terror attack by Muslim radicals timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 al-Qaeda terror attacks against the United States. The Obama administration insists the film was the basis for the attack.

In other unrest, a hard-line Muslim cleric who urged Tunisians to attack the U.S. Embassy is holed up at a mosque in Tunis, the capital, surrounded by police. Abu Yadh is wanted for urging supporters Friday to storm the U.S.compound.A crowd tore down the American flag and raised an Islamic one, looted and burned buildings. Four demonstrators died in clashes with police.

In Timergrarah, Pakistan, hundreds of people set fire to a press club and a government office, sparking clashes with police that killed one demonstrator. In Kabul, hundreds of Afghans burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base.In Jakarta, Indonesians clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, throwing rocks and gasoline-filled bottles.

Muslim Countries Vary Greatly on Censorship of Hollywood Films

By Meaghan Murphy

Fox News

Published October 21, 2010

In a scene from “Sex and the City 2,” Carrie Bradshaw and her three BFFs glide through a Middle Eastern desert festooned in Arabian finery on the backs of two camels.

That colorful vignette was never viewed in a theater in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, the movie itself was banned, because, according to the country's National Media Council, “the theme of the film does not fit with our cultural values.”

The same went for Iran.

“Western films are shown in Iran if they have a philosophical message which is in tune with challenging … the culture of the West,” Milad Dokhanchi, an Iranian-Canadian independent documentary filmmaker who is currently living in Tehran, tells

And films that do make the cut are still subject to heavy editing.

“The red lines for editing in Iran are sexuality, what would be called the display of obscenity—that would be edited out,” Dokhanci said. “For example, scenes of people making out would be cut. Harsh violence would be edited out. Those are the two main things.”

But how much of a U.S. film hits the cutting room floor in a Muslim-majority country, depends on the country. 

Iran’s cultural adviser, Javad Shamaghdari, decides what will be shown in theaters there.

“His team is responsible for editing Hollywood films,” said Dokhanchi, who recently interviewed Shamaghdari. “He told me that his goal was to make Iranian cinema global. Off camera, he comes off very confident and very chill—very relaxed. He joked with me and was funny.”

Shamaghdari wasn’t in a laughing mood when members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences paid a visit to Tehran in 2009 during an “educational and creative exchange.” Then, he demanded an apology from the delegation, which included AMPAS president Sid Ganis, former president Frank Pierson, actress Annette Bening and producer William Horburg, for the "30 years of insults and slanders" about Iranians portrayed in Hollywood films.

He did not receive one.

Despite state censorship current, uncut Hollywood films are available to anyone who wants them in Iran -- on bootleg DVDs.

“If people are interested, they can buy them for a buck or two,” says Dokhanchi. “Generally, people are not interested in going to Iranian cinema to watch Hollywood films, simply because they can get them for a very cheap price on the street. They are uncensored. I have networks of people—I give them a call, they drop off the film right at my door for a buck or two.”

Some of the DVDs currently available include “The Prince of Persia” and “The Reader.” 

“There is no punishment for selling pirated DVDs, because there’s no copyright law in Iran,” Dokhanchi said.

A third outlet for viewing select Hollywood films in Iran is IRIB, the state controlled television channel. "'Slumdog Millionaire’ was on national TV recently," says Dokhanchi, “The dancing scenes were definitely edited out, but the violent scenes were left in.”

But while Iran and the more conservative Muslim-majority countries have strict rules on what stays and what goes, others are less restrictive.

“In Turkey, there would be less censorship in terms of the sexual scenes,” Ali Abootalebi, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, tells “They're not going all the way like in Hollywood, but they’re more open.”

Abootalebi said in Turkey’s versions of Hollywood films, “people can kiss, there’s limited bedroom scenes, and nudity.”


“[Turkey] wants to be a secular country, unlike Iran and Saudi Arabia, where there’s not even touching,” Abootalebi said. “In those conservative states, there’s no dancing, singing, swearing or depictions of homosexuality in films.”

Los Angeles-based writer and director Elie Karam was living in Lebanon when "Sex and the City 2" was released there.

“The film wasn’t censored at all—nothing was taken out. Lebanon is one of the most open countries in the Middle East, so there’s not as much censorship,” he said. “I don’t think that 'Sex and the City 2'’ deserved the ban [in the EAU and other Muslim countries] because it didn’t really portray the Arab countries in a bad way—the Arab people were portrayed as generous and nice. It wasn’t an attack.”


Suspect in Dutch filmmaker's murder makes dramatic court room confession

Tuesday July 12, 2005

The man accused of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh confessed to a Dutch court that he acted out of his religious beliefs, saying he would do "exactly the same" if he were ever set free.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," 27-year-old Dutch-Moroccan national Mohammed Bouyeri told the court in Amsterdam on the final day of his trial.

Prosecutor Frits van Straelen demanded a life sentence for Bouyeri for killing Van Gogh on an Amsterdam street on November 2, 2004. He recalled the particular brutality of the murder in broad daylight saying Bouyeri not only shot Van Gogh 15 times but also stabbed him and finally slit his throat.

According to the prosecutor the murder of Van Gogh, an outspoken columnist who often criticised Islam and the multi-cultural society, deeply shocked Dutch society.

The killing -- which happened in plain view of more than 50 witnesses while the filmmaker was cycling to work -- stoked ethnic tensions and sparked a wave of reprisal attacks primarily directed at the Muslim community here.

In addition to a life sentence, the prosecution also demanded that Bouyeri be stripped of his right to vote or stand for election for the rest of his life, "to literally place him outside of our democracy".

After the prosecution's closing statement Bouyeri, who had refused to say anything about his motives during the trial, took the opportunity to make a final statement.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same, exactly the same," he said, speaking slowly in sometimes halted Dutch.

He said he felt an obligation to Van Gogh's mother Anneke, present in court, to speak, but offered no sympathy.

"I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain, I cannot -- I don't know what it is like to lose a child," he said as Van Gogh's family and friends looked on.

"I cannot feel for you ... because I believe you are an infidel," he added.

"I acted out of conviction -- not because I hated your son."

Van Gogh's mother listened quietly as Bouyeri, wearing a Palestinian black and white headscarf, spoke with a hint of admiration for her son.

"I cannot accuse your son of hypocrisy because he was not a hypocrite. He said things out of conviction," Bouyeri said of Van Gogh.

Bouyeri told the prosecutor that he concurred with the charges against him and the demand for a life sentence -- a sentence which holds no possibility of parole in the Netherlands.

Several months before he was killed Van Gogh, a distant relative of 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh, had directed a short film called "Submission", which linked abuse of women to Islam.

A letter was left on his body that included quotations from the Koran and threats to several Dutch politicians, including Somali-born lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for "Submission".

Bouyeri was arrested after a shoot-out with the police as he attempted to flee the murder scene.

He is charged with the premeditated murder of Van Gogh, the attempted murder of several police officers and bystanders, illegal possession of firearms, obstructing the work of Hirsi Ali as a member of parliament and threatening her with a terrorist act.

Hirsi Ali spent two months in hiding after the murder and is now under 24-hour protection.

Even though prosecutors have said that Bouyeri was "a leading figure" in a terrorist organization known as the Hofstad group, he has not yet been charged in that connection because of lack of evidence, Van Straelen said.

The Amsterdam court will hand down a verdict in the case on July 26, the three-judge panel said after the trial ended here Tuesday.


Film panned for showing cleric in ‘woman’s domain’


Thursday, 4 May, 2006


KUALA LUMPUR: A new film in conservative, mainly-Muslim Malaysia has been heavily criticised for showing religious officials cooking and being friendly with prostitutes. Critics say that Yasmin Ahmad’s Gubra, a sequel to an earlier film which dealt with inter-racial romance, poses a threat to Malay Muslim culture and could corrupt Muslim audiences.

Film producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman said on a TV talkshow that the character of a bilal, or muezzin who performs the call to prayer, should not have been shown at work in the kitchen.

“A pious wife would not allow her husband to cook,” Raja Azmi was quoted as saying by the Sun daily.

Raja Azmi, along with film critic Akmal Abdullah, also said that the bilal, who together with his wife was friendly with sex workers in their neighbourhood, was unfit to hold the role.

“He should have called the religious authorities to catch them. What kind of bilal allows these activities to continue in his neighbourhood?” Akmal said.

Gubra is the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Sepet, which also caused an uproar and was released after several cuts.

Akmal said it was confusing for Malay Muslims to see Orked, the heroine in Sepet who is depicted as a pious Muslim girl, fall in love with a Chinese kafir who peddles pirated DVDs.
Yasmin defended the movies, but conceded she could have shot some scenes differently including ones which showed men and  women freely touching each other, and one where an actor’s private parts were exposed.

“However, I would not change the other scenes or the storyline,” she was quoted as saying by the Star daily yesterday.

Norhayati Kaprawi of the rights group Sisters in Islam said it was inaccurate to say the religion only permitted women to do housework.

“It is not stated that it is only the wife’s duty,” she said.

Ahmad Shukri Yusoff, sharia head at a government agency said: “Entering a kitchen doesn’t degrade a man. If anything, it shows how much he loved his wife and it makes the husband-wife relationship more affectionate.”

Sepet from a Malay  word referring to the shape of ethnic Chinese eyes, won the Best Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year.

The depiction of a love affair between a Malay girl and a Chinese boy amid social and racial pressures has won numerous Malaysian film awards, but caused an uproar with scenes like one showing the heroine in a restaurant that served food that is not allowed under Islam. Other scenes that did not make it to the big screen included one where a married Malay Muslim couple were dancing dressed only in their sarongs.–AFP