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Embassy attack, protests: Are they really about a movie?

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(Article changed on September 17, 2012 at 11:52)

This article was originally published at Madison Independent Examiner. The "inflammatory" video is available for viewing there.


Egyptian protesters tear down the flag at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
Credits: AFP/Getty Images

U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans tragically died on Tuesday, September 11th, in an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Currently, protests have erupted in 49 locations around the world. The U.S. government and media claim that an anti-Islam movie spurred the attack and protests, but recent revelations from other sources suggest that may not be entirely true.

The "film" that sparked this global controversy is supposedly entitled "Innocence of Muslims." All that has been seen thus far, however, is a roughly 14-minute "trailer" that is posted on YouTube (see video here). There are versions of the video in both English and Arabic. The original English version entitled "Muhammad Movie Trailer" was posted by Sam Bacile on July 2nd. The New York Times reported that the video was dubbed into Arabic for the first time on September 4th. The version of the video, titled "The Innocence of Muslims" was posted on September 12th.

The timing of the posting of these videos and the time of the attack raises questions as to how this video is to blame. But there is more that suggests that a third-rate film is not to blame for the embassy attacks and the current global protests.

A full-length film may not even exist

According to the New York Times, the writer and producer of the film is Sam Bacile, allegedly an Israeli who spent about $5 million on the film with the help of over 100 Jewish donors.

The Christian Science Monitor reported , however, that there may be no anti-Islamic movie at all:

The online 14-minute clip of a purportedly anti-Islamic movie that sparked protests at the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya is now looking like it could have been ginned up by someone sitting a basement with cheap dubbing software.

That inference is based in part on an interview given to Gawker by Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appears in the video clip. She tells the website that she was hired last summer for a small part in a movie she was told would be called "Desert Warriors," about life in Egypt 2,000 years ago (Islam is about 1,400 years old):

It wasn't based on anything to do with religion, it was just on how things were run in Egypt. There wasn't anything about Muhammed or Muslims or anything"In the script and during the shooting, nothing indicated the controversial nature of the final product. Muhammed wasn't even called Muhammed; he was "Master George.' The words Muhammed were dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam and Muhammed.

CNN reported that the 80 cast and crew members hired for "Desert Warriors" are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer of "Innocence of Muslims." A reference was made to "rewrites of the script." As it turns out, however, parts of the script were simply dubbed over in the YouTube video.

Sarah Abdurrahman, a media analyst for On the Media, also noted the dubbing in the clip:

If you watch closely, you can see that when the actors are reading parts of the script that do not contain Islam-specific language, the audio from the sound stage is used (the audio that was recorded as the actors were simultaneously being filmed). But anytime the actors are referring to something specific to the religion (the Prophet Muhammed, the Quran, etc.) the audio recorded during filming is replaced with a poorly executed post-production dub. And if you look EVEN closer, you can see that the actors' mouths are saying something other than what the dub is saying.

For example, at 2:53, the voiceover says "His name is Muhammed. And we can call him The Father Unknown." In this case, the whole line is dubbed, and it appears the actor is actually saying, "His name is George (?). And we can call him The Father Unknown."

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http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-madison/gregory-patin

Gregory Patin is a free-lance writer residing in Madison, WI. He earned a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a MS in IT management from Colorado Tech. He is politically independent and not affiliated with either (more...)
 

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