KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Some 20 Muslim rights advocates demonstrated peacefully outside the US embassy in Jalan Tun Razak here today to object to an anti-Islamic video alleged to have been made by an American filmmaker that has sparked violent protests worldwide.
The protestors, representing some 16 non-governmental organisations, including the right-wing Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (PEMBELA), demanded that the US government take responsibility for the film titled “Innocence of Muslim”, which is said to have insulted the religion’s founder, Prophet Muhammad.
The video first appeared online on July 1, posted in English by someone using the pseudonym “sambacile”.
“In the video, they portrayed Prophet Muhammad as sex-crazed, a womaniser and gay, and this clear insults Islam,” said PEMBELA chairman Aminuddin Yahya.
“We disagree with what happened in Libya and Egypt, but we do not want the dignity of our religion insulted by a group of Christian extremists.
“Those who made the video know they will spark Muslim anger, so as to spark tension,” he told reporters after handing over a memorandum objecting to the US-made film to embassy officials.
According to a media statement from PEMBELA, the US-made film by a man called Sam Bacile had been distributed by US fundamentalist Christian evangelist Terry Jones.
Jones, a pastor with the Dove Outreach Center in Florida, had shot to globay infamy two years ago after he declared he would burn the Quran, Islam’s holy book, on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
“PEMBELA believes that Sam Bacile a film producer, and Terry Jones together with their supporters represent a small radical Christian group to insult Islam,” the NGO said in its statement.
The film was shot in the US, and was shown at a small cinema in Hollywood at the end of June.
But it is the clips posted to YouTube, translated into Arabic, according to the BBC report, that appear to have sparked a spate of violent anti-American protests in Egypt and Libya last week.
The exact origin of the movie and the Internet clip, and the motivation behind its production, remain a mystery, but it appears not to be linked to an Israeli filmmaker as was earlier widely reported, including by the BBC.
It was the film’s translation into Arabic and broadcast on Arab TV stations and talk shows which sparked the violence although investigations are now under way in Washington to establish whether the worst of the violence was not spontaneous.
The religious Egyptian TV channel al-Nas showed clips from the video, dubbed into Arabic, and scenes posted online have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
The Muslim NGOs had earlier marched to the embassy from the Tabung Haji building across the road after performing their Friday prayers at a mosque nearby.
They were spotted carrying a green flag imprinted with Islamic verses and crying out “Allahu Akbar! (God is the greatest)” repeatedly before handing over the memorandum.
Some 30 policemen had stood by at the embassy but no untoward incident happened.
“While the US is remembering the September 11 tragedy, we actually hope they can respect other religions and not insult them,” Amuniddin said, referring to the anniversary of the attack by the al Qaeda terrorist group that resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths and the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York 11 years ago.