LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California-based filmmaker went into hiding after a YouTube trailer of his movie attacking Islam's prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three American members of his staff were killed.
Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.
Protesters angered over Bacile's film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
Bacile said he is a real estate developer and an Israeli Jew. But Israeli officials said they had not heard of him and there was no record of him being a citizen. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to share personal information with the media.
In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.
"This is a political movie," Bacile told the AP. "The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're fighting with ideas."
Bacile said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world.
"Islam is a cancer, period," he said repeatedly, his solemn voice thickly accented.