Acting on the premise that the trailer for the low-budget film "Innocence of Muslims" was one of the causes of rioting and anti-American protests across the Middle East this week, the Obama Administration has asked YouTube to "review" whether the two-minute preview "violates the Website's terms of service," a phrase that usually means the government wants the "offending" item deleted.
That move led the blogger at the conservative Ace of Spades Website to charge that the federal government is "now acting as the censorship arm of Islamists."
"If we're going to have anti-blasphemy laws, I want them official and passed by Congress and reviewed by the courts," he stated. "I don't want this executive-only implementation of a despicable law."
Ace referred to a Los Angeles Times article by Harriet Ryan and Jessica Garrison that examined the backgrounds of two Egyptian immigrants behind the project: Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih of the Media for Christ organization and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, "a financially strapped gas station operator just out of prison."
Media for Christ, whose stated mission is to "glow Jesus' light" to the world, obtained permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and Nakoula provided his home as a set and paid the actors, according to government officials and the people involved in the production.
As the tumult grew on Thursday, both men went into hiding, and the persons who helped make the film have publicly distanced themselves from the project.
Neither the charity nor the men have been a focus of hate groups or law enforcement officials who monitor extremists, Ryan and Garrison noted. Their status as relative unknowns is the opposite of the reputation of Steve Klein, an anti-Islamic activist who had publicly acknowledged serving as a script consultant on the movie.
Klein's views have been tracked by Muslims and other groups for years. One of his platforms was his weekly show on Media for Christ's satellite network, The Way TV, which mainly airs prayers, sermons and hymns to Arabic Christian viewers in the U.S., Canada and the Middle East.
But in recent years, Nassralla has joined Klein in criticizing Islam in speeches and interviews.
In a 2010 address in New York, Nassralla criticized violence against Christians in Egypt and deplored plans to build a mosque near the former World Trade Center site. "Wake up, America ... Stop the Islamification of America," he said.
"I fled to America with my family because of the violence directed against me for my Christian faith," Nassralla was quoted as saying last year on an anti-Islamic Website.
At the time of this writing, the trailer video had not been removed:
Ace of Spades also slammed the Times article because it "does, yes, tell jihadists where the filmmaker lives, so they can kill him."
An actor who appeared in the movie, Tim Dax, said he was paid $75 a day in checks drawn on the bank account of Abanob Bassseley Nakoula -- a name linked to the property where Nakoula Basseley Nakoula resides. The home's distinctive front door with triangle windows in a half-circle pattern is visible in the 14-minute trailer for the movie posted on YouTube.
Two film trailers for the production were released on YouTube in early July. Those clips were dubbed into Arabic and then spread by an Egyptian American blogger.
On September 8, a two-minute excerpt was shown on Al-Nas TV, an Egyptian Islamist television station. Protests against the film and America itself began on the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. targets.
In a sign of the volatile reaction to "Innocence," even the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the funding and production of the film.
Coptic Christianity traces its roots to Egypt, where it was said to have been founded by one of Christ's apostles. Its followers constitute the largest religious minority in that nation.
And as NewsBusters previously reported, Islam's media apologists are still excusing and ignoring the violence connected in part to the release of the film.