Egyptian authorities have issued arrest warrants for the makers of the anti-Islamic film which has sparked violence in the Middle East and been blamed for the deaths of four people, including a U.S. ambassador.
Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, Egypt’s public prosecutor, issued the warrants for Terry Jones, a Florida pastor who promoted and distributed the short film, “The Innocence of Muslims.” Also sought are seven Egyptian Coptic Christians who made the film, which was initially released on YouTube.
“The warrant of arrest was issued against the defendants after the prosecutor accused them of committing crimes harming the unity of the nation and defamation of the Islamic religion,” the head of Egypt’s Interpol office, Brigadier General Magdy al-Shafei, told Egypt Independent, a local news organization.
Visual images of the Prophet Muhammad are considered an insult in the Muslim world, but the short film, done in parody form, has caused riots with its depictions of the prophet as an aloof hooligan.
The Egyptian sector of Interpol, an international police agency, has asked for cooperation from the United States in apprehending the eight involved. With exception for Jones, all currently live outside the U.S., according to CNN.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed along with three other Americans while trying to evacuate the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya when tensions boiled over in that country. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was also breached after the film gained international notoriety.
President Obama has strongly condemned the attacks. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State has spoken out against the video while also acknowledging the First Amendment rights of those allegedly responsible.
Jones, an outspoken critic of Islam who heads the nondenominational Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., said the reaction to the video is an indictment of the religion.
“Again, the face of Islam is very clear,” Jones said in a statement. “Islam is a religion of intolerance. It does not tolerate criticism of Muhammad, the Koran or even Sharia. It has a fourteen hundred year history of intolerance.”