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Inside the Islamophobic-Religious Right Alliance Whose Film Sparked a Crisis in the Middle East

An alliance of Egyptian Coptic Christians, right-wing American Christians and anti-Muslim activists is behind the "Innocence of Muslims" film.

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“Wake up, America!” Abdelmasih said to a crowd of flag-waving hooligans. “Islamics conquered our country with their lies...It's written in the Koran that the war is deceiving,” he said, a reference to the anti-Muslim trope that Muslims justify lying with the religious concept of “taqiyya,” which stipulates that Muslims can conceal their religion while at risk.

Geller responded to Abdelmasih's involvment with the film in an e-mail. “Whether or not Joseph Nassralla was involved in this film, it doesn't matter, because the film itself doesn't matter,” Geller wrote. “The film is just a pretext to justify the violence and intimidate the West into adopting Sharia restrictions on the freedom of speech, so that jihad can advance unimpeded and unopposed in the West.”

Morris Sadek is another U.S.-based Coptic Christian activist who helped promote Media for Christ's film. Sadek is likewise connected to anti-Muslim activists in the U.S. “Sadek is a supporter of ACT! for America, which believes that President Obama has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood,” Right Wing Watch's Josh Glasstetter reported.

Terry Jones, the inflammatory Christian preacher who burned Korans last year in a move that sparked deadly protests in Afghanistan, also promoted the film.

Yet another Christian right activist involved with the film is Steve Klein. Klein is a right-wing extremist allied with Sadek's National American Coptic Assembly. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Klein is “a longtime religious-right activist who brags about having led a 'hunter killer' team as a Marine in Vietnam” and who believes that Muslims are “a cancer.”

Journalist and Nation Institute fellow Max Blumenthal added to the portrait of Klein with his report that “Klein (or someone who shares his name and views) is an enthusiastic commenter on Geller’s Web site, Atlas Shrugged.” Blumenthal writes that Klein “organized alongside the anti-Muslim Coptic extremist Joseph Nasrallah to demand the firing of LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, whom they painted as a dupe for Hamas,” and that “Klein has organized against the construction of mosques in his area.”

The alliance of Egyptian Christians, right-wing American Christians and anti-Muslim activists have now sowed the seeds of more chaos in the Middle East. This is exactly what they wanted. “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” Klein told the Associated Press.

The people behind the film can also feel satisfied that they have contributed to a strain in U.S.-Egyptian relations as a time when the Muslim Brotherhood is in power. They hope that by destabilizing Egypt, Muslims will come off as crazy, violent people, and that U.S. relations with a government seen as hostile to Israel will be strained.

Their mirror image—radical, right-wing Islamists in the Middle East--continues to stoke anti-American rage across the Middle East because of the anti-Muslim film. And so both sides get what they want: a “clash of civilizations”-esque confrontation between the radicals on both sides of the “East-West” divide.

Meanwhile, ordinary Americans and Muslims are caught in the crossfire. As Blumethal wrote in the Guardian: “A group of fringe extremists had proven that with a little bit of money and an unbelievably cynical scam, they could shape history to fit their apocalyptic vision.”

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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