Back in September, the Islamic movie “The Innocence of Muslims set off protests across the Islamic world, possibly spurring on an attack on U.S. consulate in Libya that killed a U.S. Ambassador and three others.
Now get ready for the sequel.
Controversial U.S. pastor Terry Jones, who appeared to play a key role in promoting the “Innocence of Muslims,” is planning a follow-up movie that he hopes will create just as big of an impact.
The movie, titled “The Innocent Prophet,” is due to be released on December 14. While Jones is primarily responsible for the promotion of the film, the creator of the film is a man living in Spain called Imran Firasat. The pair described themselves as 50/50 partners on the film.
Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, is perhaps best known for his plans to burn Qu’rans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and has become notorious for anti-Islam publicity stunts.
Firasat clearly had a lot to say about Islam and his relationship to it (he answered one question with a 10-minute answer).
“Originally I’m from Pakistan. I was a Muslim. I was born as a Muslim in a Muslim country in a Muslim family in a Muslim society,” Firasat told us. A decision to move in with his Buddhist wife, however, apparently led to harassment — Firasat says he was detained by police and tortured. The couple eventually fled to Spain.
Angered by his experience, Firasat began blogging and giving interviews denouncing Islam. Before long, he says, he was getting death threats and was attacked physically. He decided to leave Spain, and, somewhat bizarrely, fled to his wife’s homeland in Indonesia, despite it being the country with the largest number of Muslims on earth. More legal trouble ensued in Indonesia, as Firasat says he was detained for blasphemy. Fearing for his life, he paid a bribe to police to escape back to Spain.
Although it could seem like Firasat has a personal vendetta against the Muslim world (he recently became somewhat notorious in the country for an attempt to ban the Qu’ran), he says that his decision to make this film was directly related to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Libya in September. He saw the film as an act of defiance.
“I decided on the moment when I heard about the American ambassador being killed… I will make a movie.” Firasat told us. “Ok, you do violence; we will still make more movies… One day one [of us] has to lose,” he said.
Firasat is funding the movie himself, and admits he doesn’t even have the money for an “Innocence of Muslim”-type dramatized film — however crude. Instead, the film is largely done with voice-over and images, and seeks to show the “real Mohammad” that he feels Muslims around the world don’t understand.
In order to research the film, Firasat said that he read the “English Qu’ran, Spanish Qu’ran, Hindi Qu’ran, Urdu Qu’ran, [and the] Indonesian Qu’ran.” He later added that the film will be translated into English, Spanish, Urdu, Indonesian and Arabic.
“It’s not only a fifteen-minute movie, just offending Muslims, slapping their faces,” he said. “It’s an hour and fifteen minute movie. So, as you can imagine, there’s a whole story filled with [information] about his mother, about his father, about his uncle, about his suffering, that he was an orphan. Everything.”
Firasat refused to acknowledge the potential harm a film like this could cause. He said that Muslims don’t commit violence “because of movies.” “They need an excuse so they can take revenge and they can show how much [they] hate you,” he said. He added that he was not scared of threats from Muslims, but was afraid of dying.
Firasat’s partner, Pastor Jones, was apparently more concerned about violence, but hoped for the best. He told us by phone that though he saw similarities between “The Innocent Prophet” and “The Innocence of Muslims,” he hoped that this film would not lead to violence and death.
“We would of course be very happy if it ["The Innocent Prophet"] would have a similar impact as far as raising an awareness of Islam,” Jones said. “We of course do not want, and would be unhappy, if radical Islam used this as an excuse to promote their violent agenda.”
True to his reputation, Jones seems keen for the film to get widespread attention — though it seems unlikely that this film, with its even lower budget, will have the same impact as “Innocence of Muslims” seems unlikely.
Jones said he doesn’t believe the new film will produce violence.
“Sometimes [Islamic extremists] do absolutely nothing,” he said. “I have had several hundred death threats against me and a reward, and I have not had any type of violent acts perpetrated against me. That doesn’t mean they might not still come, but I would have to say — they will not.”