The Nation Publishes Misinformation About Anti-Islam Film

Sep 14th, 2012 | By | Category: The Nation

An editorial appearing in The Nation of 14th September contains several inaccurate claims both about the film and about freedom of speech. The editorial, which represents the official position of the newspaper, claims that “was funded by Jewish business to the tune of $5 million dollars, as admitted by Israeli-American director “Sam””. Actually, there is no evidence that any Jews gave any funding to the film – certainly not $5 million dollars – and the film was not directed by an Israeli-American named “Sam” or anything else.

There have been strong questions about the identity of the person behind the offensive film since day one. Al Jazeera reported that the man using the name “Sam Bacile” is an Egyptian who spoke Arabic to other men during the filming:

Reports suggest the name is merely cover for a larger group, or a pseudonym for someone who may be neither Israeli nor Jewish, but who cited such an identify to inflame sectarian tensions.

One of the actresses who says she was tricked into being in the film says Bacile told her on set that he was Egyptian, and that he spoke Arabic to other men present.

In fact, the day before The Nation published their misleading editorial, US officials confirmed that the man behind the film is actually an Egyptian living in Los Angeles, US named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who has only recently been released from prison.

So where did this claim of “$5 million dollars” in funding from Jews come from? It came not from an “Israeli-American director” but an Egyptian convict as the phone number used to make that claim was traced back to Nakoula himself.

The Nation does appear to be correct that the ‘hate speech enthusiast Terry Jones’ promoted the film, but claiming that he was ‘instrumental’ in its spread goes a step too far. Actually, according to investigations by Al Jazeera, the film appears to have been spread primarily by Egyptian TV.

The Arabic version of the trailer received heavy media coverage in Egypt last week, including by controversial hardline TV host Khaled Abdallah, who reported on the film on September 8.

A clip of the show was posted to YouTube on September 9, where it has received almost 400,000.

The role of hardliners in Egyptian media promoting the film was not mentioned at all in The Nation‘s editorial.

It should also be noted that The Nation made inaccurate claims about double-standards applied to anti-Islamic media versus media that would be offensive to other religions. According to The Nation:

There is no dount that were such a film made with anti-Semitic intent, its exhibition anywhere in the US would have been banned, lamented and disparaged – even at the small studio where director “Sam’’s tasteless work found an audience.

Actually, there is a history in the US of offensive media being allowed under the right of free speech. In 1988, the film The Last Temptation of Christ portrayed the Prophet Jesus in a way that many Christians found offensive. Religious groups protested the film. The Christian church ‘blacklisted’ the film, telling its followers not to watch it, but even still it was not banned because of the right to free speech.

Similarly, the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ was considered offensive to Jews who protested the film as anti-semitic.

New York Jewish leaders and two dozen protesters who rallied outside News Corp.’s 6th Avenue office building on Thursday cheered when Assemblyman Dov Hikind revealed that Fox was out. Hikind (D-Brooklyn) warned other movie companies that “they should not distribute this film. This is unhealthy for Jews all over the world.”

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League also issued a strong statement terming the film as anti-semitic.

Despite protests and the offensive content of these films towards Christians and Jews, both were allowed in the US under the laws of free speech and both films earned millions of dollars at theaters. By contrast, the anti-Islam film that is the subject of The Nation‘s editorial was only shown once to an empty rented theater.

We agree with The Nation‘s position that “All well meaning governments as well as individuals must rise against such acts of studied mischief that keep the fires of hatred and enmity alive”. We include in this position the responsibility of media not to further fan the fires of hatred and enmity by reporting false claims.

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