Riots in Libya and Egypt broke out in protest of a little-seen, cheaply-made film produced by an Israeli-born real estate developer, leaving four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya, dead.
A well-respected diplomat who recently returned to Benghazi, Christopher Stevens was killed by an angry mob that was blasting rocket-propelled grenades at the US Embassy in the Libyan capital. The film, Innocence of Islam, written and directed by Sam Bacile, is a loose biography of the Prophet Muhammed, and indulges in many of the negative stereotypes about the holy Muslim figure: that he was a philanderer, homosexual, approved of child sexual abuse, and led a minion of goons.
Bacile told the Wall Street Journal that the film received a "nearly empty" screening in California in July. It was made with 60 actors and 45 crewmembers last year.
While it was nominally released in America in July, a dubbed trailer hit the web early this week, making the rounds on the web and airing on Egyptian television, outraging Muslims in both Libya and Egypt, where smaller riots broke out. Made for $5 million, raised from 100 Jewish donors, the film is meant to convey that "Islam is a cancer," Bacile told interviewers on Tuesday.
Bacile has now gone into hiding.
The film is being promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has stoked up protests before by burning Korans. He planned on hosting a screening of the film on Tuesday night.
Extra security, in the form of Marines, has been sent to the US Embassy in Benghazi.
"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," President Obama said in a statement. "Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."
View the film's trailer below: