The maker of the film Innocence of Muslims, which sparked deadly protests across the Islamic world in September, says he has no regrets about releasing the footage that portrayed Prophet Mohammed as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, convicted of bank fraud in 2010, was later arrested in Los Angeles for violating the terms of his release on probation, for which he now is serving a one-year prison sentence.
In what the New York Times called his first public remarks since his return to jail, Nakoula stated he would go to great lengths to convey what he called “the actual truth” about Prophet Mohammed.
“I thought, before I wrote this script, that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in,” he said in reply to written questions.
He cited the killing of 13 people at the Fort Hood military base in Texas in November 2009 — for which a Muslim army psychiatrist has been charged — as evidence of atrocities carried out “under the sign of Allah”.
“I became even more upset and enraged” after the Fort Hood massacre, said Nakoula, a Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt.
The Innocence of Muslims trailer was initially blamed for stirring the September attack in Benghazi in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. The Obama administration later attributed the incident to terrorism.
The trailer was 14 minutes long, but the Times said it had confirmed the existence of a full-length version with people who had seen it on DVD. It runs for one hour and 40 minutes.
“My dad is not an evil man,” the Times quoted his son Abanob Nakoula as saying.
“He has had a hard life. He did something — the movie, something he felt strongly about — that was not frowned upon by the (US) constitution. He would always say, ‘Don’t fight Muslims; fight their ideology’.”
Fort Hood shooting
The Fort Hood shooting was a shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, Texas. A single gunman killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. The gunman was Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan. Hasan was in touch with Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and asked if a soldier who “died while attacking fellow soldiers” would be a martyr.