The California resident behind an anti-Islamic film that sparked violent protests in Egypt and Libya, which in turn lead to the death of four U.S. diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, remained defiant on Wednesday and stood behind his work, the Associated Press reports.
Sam Bacile, reportedly a 56-year-old Israeli, said he believes that “Islam is a cancer.” He financed the two-hour movie with help from more than 100 Jewish donors, spending roughly $5 million, the AP reported.
“This is a political movie,” Bacile told the AP. “The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're fighting with ideas.”
There is, however, doubt about the identity of the filmmaker. Steve Klein, a reported consultant on the film, told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Sam Bacile is a pseudonym and that Bacile is not actually Israeli.
After hearing rumors that the video was a Hollywood blockbuster that would be shown throughout the U.S., protests broke out, leading to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff.
President Obama said on Wednesday that, “the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”
The film’s almost 14-minute trailer, which is still on YouTube, shows people acting as violent Muslims, taking their aggression out on Christians and women. The actors, who are predominantly white, are covered in dark makeup and use thick accents. The film also depicts the prophet Mohammad, who is subject to several slurs.
Afghanistan banned YouTube on Wednesday, to prevent its citizens from watching the controversial film, Reuters reports.
“We have been told to shut down YouTube to the Afghan public until the video is taken down,” Aimal Marjan, general director of Information Technology, told Reuters.