Last updated: 18 September, 2012

Egypt to try US Copts over anti-Islam film

Egypt’s public prosecutor on Tuesday ordered that seven US-based Egyptian Copts be tried over their role in an anti-Islam film that sparked violent clashes around the world, his office said.

The seven — Adel Riad, Morris Sadek, Nabil Bissada, Esmat Zaklama, Elia Bassily, Ihab Yaacoub and Jack Atallah — were accused of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet (Mohammed) and inciting sectarian strife.”

The prosecution said they were involved in either the production or the distribution of the film “Innocence of Muslims”.

No trial date has yet been set.

The film, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christian Americans, has sparked a week of furious protests outside US embassies and other American symbols in at least 20 countries, including Egypt.

The crude low-budget production mocks Islam and portrays the Prophet Mohammed as immoral and violent, while touching on themes of homosexuality and paedophilia.

Several cast members say they were duped into acting in the amateurish film, which has been linked to a non-profit group called Media for Christ, and was apparently produced by a convicted fraudster.

Egyptian forces were slow to react when demonstrators attacked the US embassy compound last Tuesday, scaling the walls, tearing down the American flag and hoisting a black Islamist flag in its place.

US President Barack Obama called his newly elected Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi to express concern about the incursion and told an interviewer that Egypt’s new government was neither an ally nor an enemy.

Egyptian security forces later moved in, clashing with some demonstrators for several days but keeping them away from the embassy.

And Morsi, a former top member of the Muslim Brotherhood, later said he supports peaceful protests against the offensive video but condemned violence against diplomatic facilities or personnel.