Director, Lead Producer and Screenwriter of the Controversial Film “Innocence of Muslims,” Speaks Out
- Published on Friday, 14 September 2012 13:47
In an exclusive interview with RadioSawa.com, reporter Fadoua Massat conducted an interview by telephone with a man who claimed that he is the director, lead producer and screenwriter of the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims," which has caused violent protests across the Arab World. RadioSawa conducted two interviews with this man in Arabic; one was recorded.
In the interview, the man did not confirm or deny that his name was Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. His location could not be confirmed. However, the source that provided the contact number confirmed that he has a long-standing relationship with the man and his identity is indeed that of Mr. Nakoula.
The AP has reported that U.S. law enforcement authorities have identified a Coptic Christian by the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as the man responsible for producing the film. The AP reports he pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California.
The man told RadioSawa.com that he is an Egyptian and got a degree at the Faculty of Literature at Cairo University and is also a self-proclaimed researcher in Islamic studies. He doesn't claim to hold a degree in that subject. He claims he wrote a book in 1994 after being disturbed by the treatment of Jews in Iran and the fatwa against author Salman Rushdie.
Below is an English transcript of the interview conducted in Arabic.
Q: Are you the producer behind the movie "Innocence of Muslims?"
A: I am the screenwriter of this film but I am not the producer. I only uploaded 14 minutes of the movie on the Internet. I still have the full movie but if I put the entire movie online there will be a great fuss because of the parties that produced it. [Nakoula later confirmed he was the main producer.]
Q: Who are these parties?
A: I am not able to reveal them.
Q: Some are saying that the United States was involved...
A: This is funny and ridiculous. America has nothing to do with the film.
Q: Who produced this movie then?
A: I will not disclose the producers' names.
Q: How did you decide to write the script for this film?
A: I had published a book in 1994 [on Islam] and it impressed certain parties who asked me if I could turn this book into a movie and this is what I did.
Q: What is the title of the book?
A: I refuse to disclose the title of the book for security reasons because the title of the book will reveal my true identity. This book later became the script now directed by a famous European director whose name is jumbled on the film and one day he will reveal his true identity.
Q: Some actors who participated in the film told U.S. media that you had misled them and believed they were acting in a movie about Egypt 2000 years ago.
A: The actors who participated in the film do not belong to an actors union and therefore do not have the right to contest the final form of the film. The producer retains full right to change the details of the film as he pleases.
Q: Are you admitting jthat you misled the actors?
A: This is a producer's right. He can put what he wants in the film without consulting the actors and what happened was that the actors performed roles under pseudonyms. I understand that they now fear for their lives, but my answer to them is that they do not belong to a professional association.
Q: Did you expect that the film would cause such strong reactions in the Arab and Muslim worlds?
A: Some people advised me – the other producers – but they put my mind at ease believing nothing would happen. The advisers were foreigners who do not know anything about Arabs and have never visited Arab countries. The producers were European and do business with the United States and Australia.
Q: How do you feel about the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and the three other members of the embassy who died because of the angry reactions to the film?
A: First, the U.S. ambassador's death has nothing to do with the film. The people who did this are thugs and thieves. I have a question for those people: If you are defending the Prophet, why do you steal from embassies? President Sadat said in the past: "Such is an uprising of thugs."
Q: But the film touched the feelings of Muslims strongly and they expressed outrage about it. You say that you are a researcher in Islamic Studies and know the stature of the Holy Prophet to Muslims and the film used [by Muslims] as a pretext to kill the U.S. ambassador.
A: America is a victim of injustice in this case.
Q: How is the American government a victim?
A: What does the U.S. government have to with these subjects? If a person anywhere in the world does something, should a government be held responsible? Of course not. We have to learn demonstrate peacefully against the issues on which we disagree, but it seems that Omar Suleiman was right when he said, "We are not yet ready for democracy."
Q: Do you regret the production of the film?
A: No, I do not regret it. I am saddened for the killing of ambassador, but I do not regret making it.
Q: If you had the chance again you will produce the same film?
A: I am no longer a young man. I've decided to retire. Enough.
Q: Do you have any kind of official protection by a government?
A: Absolutely not. I never enjoyed any kind of protection and why would I need protection while living a normal life?
Q: If you are living a normal life why not reveal your true identity?
A: For personal reasons.
Q: Many Egyptian Coptic organizations have condemned your film and rejected it completely. What is your comment on that?
A: They are free to do this and this is their right. These people have nothing to do with the subject of the film. The film was my idea alone and it only concerns me. I did not fabricate anything and everything in the film exists in Islamic books and heritage.
Q: Have you read the Koran?
A: Of course I read the Koran and more than 3,000 books on Islam and put these ideas in my film.
Q: You say you read about Islamic heritage and read the Koran, have you read about other religions? Why are you associating only negative things about Islam? Did you not find any negative things in other religions?
A: I'm familiar with other religions but I am interested in Islam in particular.
Q: You have defended America often in this conversation. Do you feel guilty after it happened?
A: Yes, I feel guilty. America has nothing to do with this subject and endured the results of film it has nothing to do with it.
Q: Do you have a message to Muslims?
A: Yes, I have a message for the whole world and not for Muslims. I hope that you watch the movie in full before you judge it.
Q: Are you saying the excerpts were manipulated to show negative scenes?
A: No, I am the one who leaked the 14 minutes and put it on the Internet and I am thinking about releasing the full film. Nobody manipulated my film.
Q: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the film strongly and absolutely...
A. By God, the U.S. President is responsible for his people, as well as U.S. Secretary of State and every one has the right to say what he wants.
Q: How do you describe yourself?
A: An Arab thinker interested in Islamic affairs who refuses to disclose details such as my name or where I am or the name of the producers... I want to offer my condolences to the people of the United States.
In his second interview, the man also said that he was approached by anonymous people in recent days to write a "blank check" so they could buy the rights to the master copy of his entire two-hour film and destroy it.