Knox film critics and religion majors have a new cause to discuss — and to perhaps feel disgusted about: “Innocence of Muslims,” a shoestring-budget film that depicts the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, vigilante and false prophet.
Two weeks ago, a 13-minute preview was translated into Arabic and put on YouTube, causing outrage and rioting at American embassies and consulates across the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries.
At a protest in Benghazi, Libya, a local militia took advantage of the protest and stormed an American consulate, killing veteran ambassador Christopher J. Stevens. Ongoing riots have killed 19 in Pakistan.
Much of the violence was incited by radical clerics, who took advantage of anti-American sentiments and exaggerated rumors of the films depiction of Muhammad, according to Israel National News.
“Even if I wasn’t Muslim, I would be insulted. This is clearly only supposed to make fun of the prophet. Not to mention, the production value is terrible,” senior Hatim Mustaly, an Indian Muslim that moved to the U.S. as a teenager, said.
Junior Abesh Aziz said that while he “was insulted,” it was also part of “the normal Islamophobia we experience every day in the West.”
In one scene of “Innocence of Muslims,” Muhammad is chased around tent poles by two sandal-wielding women after being caught in bed with a slave, as he shouts, “The battle, I’m late for the battle, leave me, I have to go to the battle!”
In the next, he is covered in blood, shouting, “Every non-Muslim is an infidel! Their lands, their women, their children, are our spoils!” thrusting his sword as CGI flames burst around him.
Islam’s tenets hold images of the Prophet, specifically his face, to be blasphemous. Graphic novels and films that tell his story typically find creative ways around showing his face to avoid this offense.
The film was produced by Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who falsely identified himself as an Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile in interviews leading up to the film’s limited release.
Nakoula is a convicted fraudster, whose fake checks earned him 12 months of jail time between 2010 and 2011. He was on bail when the film was made and voluntarily spoke to the police when the riots erupted.
All of the religious references in the film were dubbed, and as a result, a number of actors and actresses have come out against the film. At least one court case is pending against Nakoula, according to New York Daily News. The Arabic translation of the film, however, glossed over the dubbed nature of these references.
“The film is a testament to the fact that unfortunately people who are blinded by their own xenophobia, or are driven towards their own ugly ends, will create any lie or stir any controversy and the rest of us have to deal with the consequences,” senior Rana Tahir, President of the Islamic Club, said.
Pastor Terry Jones, best known for his highly controversial “Burn a Koran Day,” which elicited similar reactions across the world, helped promote the film in the United States.