“I like to call this new generation of Egypt’s Christians ‘the Coptic Brotherhood’ … for they adopt the same policy & tactics of the Muslim Brotherhood.” … Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
There is a worldwide consensus that the now-notorious video clips of the anti-Islam film “innocence of Muslims” are extremely offensive, provocative and clumsily amateurish but at the same time there is almost a similar consensus that doesn’t consider the violent and demagogic Muslim reaction any less offensive and provocative.
And putting in mind that the writer and director of the film is an Egyptian Copt by the name of Nakoula Basseley, at least that’s what we have been told so far, still this 14- minute trailer poses some serious questions.
Let’s assume that this Nakoula has nothing to do with any secret lobbies or agencies and that he and some of the fanatic Copts in the US are behind this so called film. Let’s overlook the weird timing, September 11, of posting the Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer on YouTube and let’s ignore the strange involvement of the infamous terry jones in the issue.
Let’s pass over the deliberate mocking and degradation and try to bring out the core ideas the script of this film was based upon.
In other words, let’s see what kind of ideology/belief, if any, this film is grounded in.
Who is Nakoula Basseley
- But before we get to that, let’s see what we’ve got on the maker of this offensive film. Who is exactly this Nakoula Basseley?
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a 55 years old, Egyptian Christian (Copt), and yes in Egypt people are unfortunately branded/ presented by their religion.
Nothing in this man’s life is extraordinary; he is an average Copt, and in his early twenties he decided to do what most Coptic teenagers dream of, that is to move out of Egypt and migrate to western countries that still grant citizenship for Christian minorities in the Middle East, namely USA and Australia.
What is really ironic is that most of the Egyptian Copts who apply for immigration visas to the US or Australia, personally, have no history of religious persecution/discrimination whatsoever. And they apply for immigration as if they apply for a new job.
For most Egyptian Copts, the embassy interview, be it American, Canadian or Australian, is the closest thing to a new career interview, only they apply for it disguised under the cloak of religious persecution.
And I’m not saying that there is no sectarian strife, nor there any Coptic victims of the religious discrimination in Egypt. But the actual victims are usually the very poor/helpless who live in the rural suburbs or even urban slums, and they are not the kind who would ever think of leaving the country of their birthplace or entertain the mere notion of visiting the American/Australian embassy and apply for asylum.
Read the latest incident of Coptic persecution in ‘Rafah’, the Sinai town at the border with Israel, which the Jihadist Salafists declared an Islamist emirate.
Lighting a candle in their small town church and asking for god’s help is the hopeless’ only thinkable refuge. But applying for a US immigrant visa is the game that only shrewd middle-class Copts could play.
So there he was, Mr. Nakoula, a newly Coptic immigrant to the US, who conned his way out of Egypt and the minute he arrived in the states he embarked on a series of fraud and criminalities; from a fixed marriage, possessing drugs used to make methamphetamine, bank fraud and demands for unpaid tax bills, and lately this so called ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film.
He was even convicted and jailed for 21 months and got out on probation for credit card fraud.
What I’m trying to explain here is that this Nakoula guy is not a persecuted Coptic, he’s been freely going in and out of Egypt over the last two decades though he has been convicted in a couple of lawsuits in his native country.
Mr. Nakoula is not a thinker, and he knows nothing about cinema or filmmaking, as a matter of fact the only thing he could think about is how to make easy and often dirty money. And it goes without saying that a man who goes about in his life by fraud is no religious man.
So why a fraudster such as Mr. Nakoula would be interested in mocking the religious history of Islam and its prophet. And why would a bankrupt like him bother with producing this disparaging film out of his own pocket, when all of his life he has been robbing other people’s money. It doesn’t make sense … does it?
My point is that the ideas and the money behind this film are definitely not Mr. Nakoula’s, otherwise he would have stood for his point of view before the whole world when he had the chance. Instead he went into hiding, and when brought for questioning at the police station he wrapped a shawl around his face as if he wanted to go invisible.
During his interrogation, Nakoula stressed that he was not the writer of the film and that he was only responsible for management and logistics.
As for the money, it was found that ‘Media for Christ’ was listed as the production company for the film and its headquarters was where most of the movie was made. Its president is Joseph Nasrallah, another fanatic of the Coptic diaspora and an outspoken critic of Muslims and the owner of a Coptic satellite TV channel called ‘The Way’
Watch Video of Nasrallah’s speech at a 9/11 rally against Ground Zero Mosque
Besides Nasrallah, the meager production- the whole anti-Islam film was shot in Chroma key- depended mainly on donations from fanatic Copts inside and outside Egypt.
The anti-Islam film based on the teachings of a Coptic priest in exile
- Actually raising money was not much of a problem as long as the donors were assured that the film would actualize the teachings of the infamous Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest- barred from the Egyptian Coptic church – who made a career out of disparaging Islam and his prophet.
Botros was exiled from Egypt in the early 1990s shortly after his release from prison for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Botros is also quoted in an article as telling the Arabic satellite TV station ‘Alfady’, “The movie is all things we said in the past.
Botros became widely known in 2003 after he appeared on talk shows on ‘the Hayah’ Evangelical Channel. He went on to have his own show on the channel. His criticism of Islam could be summed up in one phrase ‘Islam is a hoax’
In his videos, Botros elaborates on how the biggest chunk of the Koran is but a funny mix of excerpts and stories from the old and the new testament, and the rest is merely demonic verses revealed to Mohamed by the Satan himself.
Botros, after investigating, with his logical methodology, the life and historical background of the prophet Muhammed, he concluded that Muhammed is a big impostor, a womanizer, a child molester and a terrorist who spread his influence by the might of the sword.
Very interesting findings indeed, but I only wish this Boutros could work the same logical methodology on the historicity of the Old and New Testament. It would be fun to watch him forsake his clerical clothing when he reaches equally startling conclusions.
Zakaria Botros, has been named “Islam’s public enemy No. 1” and Al-Qaeda has put a $60 million bounty on his head.
What were the financers of this pathetic film expecting? What was their goal? If they expected hordes of Muslims to convert after watching the trailer, then they must be as naïve as a kindergarten kid.
One of the most despicable responses to the ‘Muhammed film’, and quite unprecedented in Egypt, was the threat by an obscure Salafist, currently being prosecuted, to burn a copy of the Bible.
Mocking any faith will only prompt its followers to go on the defensive and will push its extremists to do all sorts of crazy things including, in the case of Muslim extremists, taking up arms against whom they envision as their foe.
Muslim Brotherhood vs. Coptic Brotherhood
I personally think, and after discussing the matter with many of my Coptic friends, that those who financed and made this lame video did it out of deeply seated grudge against Muslims and Islam.
Being a Christian in Egypt or any country with a Muslim majority is not an easy life. Muslims get fanatically outraged by any gesture that would dare come near their scripture or prophet- tribalism’s influence- whereas other minorities of other faiths, be it Christians or Jews or even Shiites, have to bite the bullet and endure through an endless rhetoric and practices that demean their beliefs and discriminate against them.
Recently, and with the rise of the Islamic fundamentalism after the so called Arab spring, the Christians in Egypt are publicly referred to in the sermons of Salafist clerics, as infidels.
But as Egypt harbors some of the ultra-conservative Muslims, aka Salafists, its Copts are the followers of the most conservative Orthodox Church in the world.
Egypt Coptic church still believe in demons, and exorcism, and doesn’t authorize divorce. Copts believe that the popes of their Church are saints who are undoubtedly capable of performing miracles and that some of the church’s priests are endowed with the heavenly gift of curing the irredeemable ailments.
But above all, the fundamentalist sect of the Coptic Church implicitly denies any revelation or Holy Scripture to have descended from heaven after the crucifixion of the lord Jesus. So, likewise, but only tacitly most of the fundamentalist Copts view the Muslims as infidels.
Some of the ultra-conservative Muslims truly believe that attacking the churches of the Christians and discriminating against them is a genuine Islamic conduct approved by the sharia law and some of the scripture verses (Koran 98:6)
The ultra-orthodox Coptic teachings interpret any adversity, including the attacks on the churches, the killing and branding them as infidels, as a test of faith, and no matter how horrible the hardships they will face, it is bound to be nothing compared to the sufferings of the Jesus on the cross.
So, what we have here is a growing tide of fundamentalism of extremely dogmatic Muslims and Christians. What we have here could be the final days of the civil society that once valued tolerance and religious diversity, which Egypt has come to know and enjoy throughout the 19th and most of he 20th century– let’s hope not.
And while we are witnessing the rise of Salafists & the Muslim brotherhood to power, especially after the Arab uprisings, in countries like Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Gaza, Iraq and very soon Syria ..
Likewise, and in response, there is an evolving trend amongst the biggest Christian minority in the Middle East, namely Egypt’s Copts, to abandon the submission of the older generations of the Coptic Orthodox Church and to engage in politics and may be resort to violence if necessary.
I like to call this new generation of Egypt’s Christians ‘the Coptic Brotherhood’ … for they adopt the same policy & tactics of the Muslim brotherhood that depends on the underground organization, raising money from the members’ donations and lobbying outside the borders of Egypt, and most of all they long for a Coptic state, as the MB for a Muslim caliphate – within the borders of Egypt . It could be southern Egypt for all they care, like what happened in Sudan.
But how could they do that? How could their separatist plan succeed when they are the weak and armless minority? … Well, it could only work out if they dragged a super power into the conflict.
It is well known that some of the western governments have been monitoring the Copts’ file in Egypt for decades now, but the paradigm shift only happened with the latest series of attacks on the US embassies in most of the Arab and Muslim countries especially Benghazi and Cairo in the aftermath of the ‘Mohammed film’
“Egypt is not a US ally anymore” said Mr. Obama in a TV interview, commenting on the storming of the American embassy in Cairo. And he warned of problems if Egypt did not protect the US embassy and staff.
And if that was the only outcome of the anti-Islam film then maybe the producers and its maker are not so naïve after all. And if the making of this film has not yet proved any collaboration with the Israeli lobby in the US, I certainly believe their next project will, for the partition of Egypt might be a dream for some of the fanatic Copts, inside Egypt and in the diaspora, but it is undoubtedly the Mossad’s ultimate goal.
For more articles by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat visit his website.
He writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, comparative religion and politics especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Founder and board member of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina friends' society. Some of His articles have been published in Egyptian magazines and online publications ( e.g., Salem News.com, Opinion Maker, Dissident Voice, Intifada Palestine, Uprooted Palestinians and My Catbird Seat)
He regrets the fact that most people dismiss the vital role history plays in our life.History helps us understand change and how the society we live in came to be.
Dr. Ezzat studied video editing and photography in 2010. And has been making some short films and documentaries ever since.
One last thing, he likes listening to opera and classical music.
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