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Coptic Christians react to alleged anti-Muslim filmmaker's arrest

Edwin Calderon/NBC LA

LA County Sheriff deputies escort the man known as Nakoula Besseley Nakoula from his Cerritos home earlier this month.

News of yesterday's arrest of the alleged anti-Muslim filmmaker known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is meeting with a mixed sense of relief from Egyptian Coptic Christians in Southern California, where he lives and where the inflammatory video "Innocence of Muslims" was shot.

Federal authorities arrested the Cerritos resident, who identified himself as Mark Basseley Youseff in court yesterday, in Los Angeles for violating terms of his probation following a 2010 bank fraud case. Among other things, his probation terms restricted his use of the Internet. The video, which mocks Islam and has been blamed for triggering deadly violence in the Middle East, was posted to YouTube with an Arabic voice-over.

Nakoula is Egyptian American and a Coptic Christian, a sizeable religious minority in Egypt with roots that date back to the early days of Christianity. After his identity became known earlier this month, his local co-religionists distanced themselves from Nakoula, condemning the film and the violent reaction abroad.


What does an Egyptian arrest warrant mean for alleged anti-Muslim filmmaker?

Edwin Calderon/NBC LA

LA County Sheriff deputies escort Nakoula Basseley Nakoula from his Cerritos home shortly after midnight Saturday morning.

Now that Egyptian officials have issued an arrest warrant for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged filmmaker behind the inflammatory anti-Muslim film "Innocence of Muslims" that's been blamed for deadly violence in the Middle East, this evolving story warrants a closer look at what the rules are.

Nakoula and the seven others named (who include the controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones) are accused of "harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information," according to a piece in the Los Angeles Times. News stories have reported that Nakoula, a Cerritos, Calif. resident described in reports as "a naturalized U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent and a Coptic Christian," could face the death penalty in Egypt. But that is, of course, if he ever lands in Egypt, which seems unlikely.


Coptic Christians condemn anti-Muslim film, distance themselves from alleged filmmaker

sinahi tenurche/YouTube

A screenshot from a trailer for controversial anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims."

Coptic Christians in Southern California are distancing themselves from the alleged director of an anti-Muslim film that some observers say has sparked deadly violence in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. The victims include U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

This morning, the Associated Press reported that U.S. authorities had named 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian based in Southern California, as the director of a film titled "Innocence of Muslims," which mocks Muslims and the prophet Muhammad. In the report, Nakoula has denied directing the film. He says he only assisted with film logistics. Nakoula identified the filmmaker as Sam Bacile, although cell phone records trace back to Nakoula.