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Quite a bit of digital ink has been spilt concerning the production of the film and trailer known, at varied points in its history, as Desert Warrior(s) / Innocence of B[i]n Laden / Innocence of Muslims / The Real Life of Muhammad. One of the things that has stood out for me as I survey the writing and commentary (here on dKos and elsewhere) is the absence of any substantive discussion and awareness of precisely how the trailer for the film gained attention among Egyptians who were, or so it seems to me, the intended audience. In a sense, our collective attention has been focused on a) aspects of the production of the film here in the U.S. and b) the events associated with the protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Garden City, Cairo. This diary is an effort to address what I consider to be an important yet neglected question: namely, how did a crappily-produced fourteen-minute trailer that, in all honesty, should have sunk into oblivion gain attention in Egyptian media?

Fascinating as the early history of the film is (production as Desert Warrior; the one-time 23 June screening as The Innocence of B[i]n Laden; the clip [The Real Life of Muhammad] and trailer [Muhammad Movie Trailer] posted to the "Sam Bacile" YouTube channel on 1 and 2 July respectively) I'd like to begin this particular event-history on 4 September with the appearance of the dubbed Egyptian (Cairene) Arabic trailer on the “Sam Bacile” YouTube channel and the subsequent promotion of the dubbed trailer by Morris Sadek.

(4 September)  Sadek contacts Gamal Girgis, a journalist with the Cairo-based al-Youm al-Sabaa newspaper who writes often on Coptic expatriates and Coptic/Islamic issues, drawing Girgis' attention to the trailer.

(5 September)  Sadek posts a link to the dubbed trailer on the website of his National American Coptic Assembly under the heading "World-Renowned Film on the Life of Muhammad, Prophet of Islam" (nota bene: the Arabic word used by Sadek [ 'ālamï ] for "world-renowned" also has connotations of "erudition"). The link on the NACA page is positioned above both a cartoon critical of Muhammad and an announcement of Terry Jones' “International Judge Muhammad Day” scheduled for 11 September (link [in Arabic]).

(6 September)  Sadek emails a newsletter featuring a link to the trailer to NACA members and like-minded Coptic activists, and also sends an email to international journalists promoting Jones' 11 September “International Judge Muhammad Day” with a link to the trailer.

(6 September)  Gamal Girgis publishes his three-paragraph commentary on the trailer in al-Youm al-Sabaa, a piece filed under "Local News" (article [in Arabic]). As far as I've been able to determine, Girgis' piece is the earliest mention of the trailer in the Egyptian media. My translation follows:

Copts Produce a Film Offensive to Islam and to the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

Thursday, 6 September 2012, 20:49
Gamal Girgis

In a shocking move that confirms their plans for harm against Egypt, calls for sectarian discord and fuels the feelings of hatred between Muslims and Copts, just as they have worked against the attainment of stability for Egypt since President Muhammad Morsi took up the reins of state, a number of expatriate Copts led by 'Ismat Zaqlamah (who has called for the division of Egypt and names himself the President of a so-called “Coptic State) and by Morris Sadek (who has never ceased to attack Egypt in every international forum and provoke foreign sentiment against it) allied with the bigoted Reverend Terry Jones (who has burned the Qur'an numerous times) have produced a film about the life of Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, which contains profound abuses and extensive deceptions against the Holy Prophet, confirming the deep hatred that the producers of this film hold for Islam and the sublime Prophet.

At this time a number of Egyptian Coptic leaders have already denounced the film, emphasizing that the producers of the film are advancing their own agenda, and these leaders have rejected any abuse of the Holy Prophet and have denounced the production of the film as an offense against God, just as it is an offense against Islam.

Dubbed in fluent Arabic by the producers, the film represents Muslims as terrorists and as bearing collective responsibility for the attacks of September 2009. In this way, the film opens with the killing of a Coptic doctor and his daughter in Egypt by the hands of Muslims with encouragement from Egyptian police officers, a scenario that does not exist in reality because Egyptians, both Muslims and Copts, are woven together in a single nation and are not separated by sectarian strife. Whatever happens is nothing more than a passing crisis and imperils neither the unity nor commitment among Muslims and Copts.

I find Girgis' piece instructive for a number of reasons. First, he frames the trailer as intended primarily to stir up conflict among Copts and Muslims in Egypt. Second, he describes the trailer as being produced by what amounts to "the usual suspects": expatriate Copts led by Zaqlamah and Sadek who are allied with the likes of Terry Jones and his history of anti-Islamic provocations. Third, he notes that Coptic leaders in Egypt have denounced the trailer and distanced themselves from the agenda of its producers. Taken in sum, Girgis' commentary reads as a somewhat resigned "look what these idiots are up to this time."

(7-8 September)  Other Egyptian newspapers, web-fora and social-media begin to pick up Girgis' story and framing: namely, that "the usual suspects" (expatriate Copts + Terry Jones) are attempting to stir up sectarian conflict within Egypt. On his 8 September evening show on the Cairo-based ultraconservative religious al-Nas television channel, Khaled Abdullah holds up a newspaper story entitled “New Film Attacks Islam” (try as I might, I just can't determine which newspaper he's holding) and then airs a two-minute clip from the dubbed trailer. The essence of Abdullah's and co-host Muhammad Hamdi's spirited commentary is that expatriate Copts are yet again attempting to light the flames of Coptic/Islamic conflict, and that their efforts should be rejected by Egyptians, Muslim and Copt alike. Abdullah and Hamdi both emphasize that Egyptian Coptic leaders have condemned the film and distanced themselves from the expatriate provocateurs (video [in Arabic]).

(9 September)  Likely inspired by Abdullah's broadcast, the first calls are heard for an organized protest of the film outside the U.S. embassy in Garden City, Cairo, on 11 September to coincide with Terry Jones' "International Judge Muhammad Day." Wisam Abdel Warith, the president of the Cairo-based ultraconservative Salafi al-Hikma television channel, is a prominent voice among numerous Salafi leaders calling for protests. It is at this point that the issues surrounding the film bloom into a more comprehensive Salafi discourse of American-Egyptian ties and "American"/"Western" attacks on Islam, and it is at this point that we see the emergent demands for 1) an official American denunciation of and apology for the film and 2) the immediate release of "the Blind Shaykh" (al-Watan article, 10 September [in Arabic]). It is likely that these two days before the protests in Cairo, with chatter across various Salafi satellite- and social-media, saw the "internationalization" of the trailer from Egypt to Libya and beyond.

Alea iacta est... The initial somewhat dismissive attitude toward the trailer and film as the product of disaffected expatriate Copts and their fringe allies, like Terry Jones, transformed by 10 September into a protest-movement reflecting varied interests within Egyptian society. The 11 September protests in Cairo also reflected domestic political struggles reaching far beyond that among Copts and Muslims to include the struggle between marginalized Salafis and the empowered Muslim Brotherhood, between Salafis willing to participate in the electoral process and those who are not, and even between anti-authoritarian Ultras and the Egyptian state.

Originally posted to angry marmot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 09:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Muslims at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 09:03:39 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, poco, Aunt Martha

    Was it in the Arabic press that you learned about the emails and their dates? I have missed seeing this in the US media although I haven't read everything there is to read about it.

    Also, at one point it was claimed there was a feature length movie that showed in LA at a theater. Do you know if it is true that there is a full length movie, or if it was only the 14 minute one that was ever put up on YouTube?

  •  Thanks for the details. (4+ / 0-)

    How credible do you think the attribution to Copts in the USA is?

    Clearly, the trailer -- and picture if it exists -- was intended to stirr up hatred between the west and Islam.

    It certainly worked in terms of stirring up Muslim hatred of westerners, specifically Americans. I've been suspecting that this was the original intent. How likely do you think this is?

    •  To be clear... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Aunt Martha

      Sadek, Zaqlamah and Nakoula represent a very small and fringe percentage of expat Copts. Nakoula's participation in the production of the film is fairly well established, as is Sadek's promotion of the trailer. There have been some suggestions that Sadek was directly involved in the dubbed translation, but I haven't seen any evidence of that.

      I think the film / trailer was intended to work on two levels: one specific to Egypt (Muslims and Copts) and one much more general (Islam and the West.)

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 10:18:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great summary! (0+ / 0-)

    I am very interested in seeing how the planning of this by American Copts may (or may not) be coordinating with some outside groups and whether there's a coordinated effort to destabilize the ME in order to effect the election.

    "Mitt Romney isn't a vulture capitalist: vultures only eat things that are dead." -S. Colbert

    by newinfluence on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 10:25:14 AM PDT

    •  Hmmmm... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, Aunt Martha

      "Coordinating with some outside groups"? Perhaps, if by "outside groups" you mean the network of Islamophobes typified by Geller and Spencer. Nakoula, Sadek and Zaqlamah are all peripheral figures in that network.

      "[C]oordinated effort to destabilize the ME in order to effect the election"? I just don't see it. In my view, such a theory gives far too much credit to these clowns.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:23:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, those were some of the groups I meant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've heard a couple of Coptic activists speak (granted, it was 7 or 8 years ago,) and they spoke about "inducing encounters" with Islamist Egyptians to show the world what Copts were facing. It seemed very much like they were beating the drum of what Gellar calls stopping Islamofascism by creating tension and having the media report it. That phrasing (inducing encounters) has stood out with me, because it seemed, well, almost creepy. They were trying to build bridges with American evangelicals like Hagee and some (mainly SoCal) pastors in what seemed like an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of deal.  (I was working, not there for their conference, but I was drawn in by the ululating and clapping, so I decided to see what was going on.) Their entire presentation didn't make much sense to me, but then again, I wasn't well-versed in their situation. I have wondered if they were able to make inroads into those American faith communities and the anti-Islam industry that has cropped up. I'm really not trying to get all conspiracy theorist... I just wonder if the relationships were ever built with people who actually do wield political power, even if it's behind the scenes power (like Ralph Reed.)

        "Mitt Romney isn't a vulture capitalist: vultures only eat things that are dead." -S. Colbert

        by newinfluence on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:06:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary, am. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, JDsg, Aunt Martha

    Really helps to clarify the time line and the way the reaction has been managed.

    And that it is a Salafi TV channel that starts demanding protests. That is really illuminating. Attempting to corner Morsi between the reaction on the street and the US. And they succeeded for a while too.

    It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

    by poco on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:40:56 AM PDT

    •  We have a winner! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, JDsg, Aunt Martha
      Attempting to corner Morsi between the reaction on the street and the US.
      Much of the protests in Cairo was only tangentially related to the trailer/film; it simply served as an facade for other social and political issues, those myriad forces pushing and pulling on Morsi.

      Nice to see you, poco!

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:50:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please dig deeper (0+ / 0-)

    Every person involved in financing (you forgot Joseph Nasrallah Abdelmasih), making, distributing, advertising and promoting the film has ties to the GOP.

    Morris Sadek is a Republican Party memeber and a Washington lobbyist associated with Congressman Frank Wolf. Here's a coincidence: Wolf is one of the Republican lawmakers claiming that the Obama administration is "dissembling" about the attack in Libya.

    Davis Horowitz held a retreat Apr 30-May 1 about the "counter-jihad" effort. In attendance were Robert Spencer (who has past associations with all of  the people involved with the video) and KARL ROVE. Horowitz posted videos of all the speeches given at the retreat--except one. He didn't post the speech given by  the keynote speaker: KARL ROVE.

    It was late May-late June when Basselly and Sadek began making preparations to screen and promote the video. Steve Klein was also involved in this stage.

    Karl Rove had another interesting meeting prior to the attack on the consulate in Libya: He met with Neil C Livingstone. Please google "Neil C Livingstone Libya" for some background on his contacts with Khadafy supporters in Libya. ROVE met with Livingstone on Aug 18, 2012.

    From the beginning, the Libyan Government has maintained that the organizers of the attack in Libya:
    1) Were Khadafy loyalists
    2) recruited local Salafists for the attack
    3) USED the demonstration against the video as a cover
    4) Had inside info on consulate security

    There is MUCH, MUCH more information to suggest that the GOP orcherstrated the uproar over the video AND coordinated with Khadafy supporters who carried out the attack

    It would not be the first time that the GOP engaged in treasonous activity overseas to influence a presidential election.  Think about the South Vietnamese rejecting the US-negotiated peace treaty in 1968. The Nixon campaign told the South Vietnamese they would get a better deal with Nixon in office. This is nort speculation or a theory. It is a historically documented fact. There are other events in the "theory" category.

    I hope you will dig. Write to me at "thetruthaworkoffiction@gmailDOTCOM"

    We have a lot of work to do because the spooks involved are desseminating spin on WaPO and NYT and WSJ.

    They have already put a lot of misdirections and falsehoods into the storyline. They want to create a false narrative and claim that it's true so that they can deny the truth when it is published.

    1) The Gitmo guy is the leader of Ansar al-sharia FALSE
    2) Intel knew who the terrorists were and where they were the next day FALSE
    3) There was no demonstration against the video in Libya FALSE
    4) Al-Queda is behind the attack FALSE
    5) Administration officials have clearly stated al-queda was behind the attack FALSE
    6) The FBI won't be able to get any evidence after so much time has passed FALSE
    7) The Obama Administration LIED and said that the attack wasn't a terrorist attack FALSE
    8) Al-Queda made the video (John McCain told this whopper!) FALSE

    There are more! Watch who gives the talking points. Trace where their bread is buttered.

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