The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who made the anti-Islam
film that sparked protests across the Muslim world has no
regrets about his insulting portrayal of the Prophet
Mohammad, according to an interview with the New York Times.
In his first public comments since the 14-minute trailer for
his film, "Innocence of Muslims," gained notoriety in
September, Mark Basseley Youssef told the newspaper he wanted
to reveal what he called "the actual truth" about Mohammad
and raise awareness of the violence committed "under the sign
The film portrayed Mohammad as a womanizer, ruthless killer
and child molester. The film touched off a torrent of
anti-American unrest in Arab and Muslim countries. For many
Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is considered
In explaining his reasons for the film, he cited "atrocities"
by Muslims. After a Muslim gunman killed 13 people at Fort
Hood, Texas in 2009, "I became even more upset and enraged,"
he said in written comments conveyed to the Times through his
attorney. A Times request to interview him in person was
blocked by prison authorities.
"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,"
Youssef, a former gasoline station owner identified in some
public records by his birth name, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula,
received a one-year prison sentence in early November for
violating terms of his 2011 supervised release from prison on
a bank fraud conviction. In the course of making the film, he
made use of false identities and lied to his probation
officer, both of which were prohibited under his probation.
As early as 2008, Youssef had completed a brief treatment for
his movie, which he originally wanted to call "The First
Terrorist." After going through five versions of the script,
he raised $80,000 to finance the film, apparently through his
second ex-wife's Egyptian family and donations from other
The shoot for "Innocence of Muslims" lasted only 15 days.
Although only the film's 14-minute trailer has been released
online, a feature-length movie does exist, running about one
hour and 40 minutes, the newspaper said.
Some actors were under the impression that they were
performing in an adventure drama called "Desert Warriors"
whose villain was named George. Youssef, who worked on the
film under the alias Sam Baccil, later dubbed the name
Muhammad whenever an actor said George.
At least one actress has sued Youssef, claiming her image and
reputation were harmed and her safety put in jeopardy, citing
a religious edict she said an Egyptian cleric had issued
against anyone connected with the movie. Youssef, however,
has no qualms about how he handled the cast.
"They had signed contracts before they went in front of any
camera, and these contracts in no way prevented changes to
the script or movie," Youssef told the New York Times.