CAIRO - A leading American Muslim group has appealed to all Muslims worldwide to ignore a film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that sparked attacks on US diplomatic missions in the Arab world.
"We urge that this ignorant attempt to provoke the religious feelings of Muslims in the Arabic-speaking world be ignored and that its extremist producers not be given the cheap publicity they so desperately seek, Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
A film, produced and directed by an American-Israeli real-estate developer, portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
Titled Innocence of Muslims, the film, set in the modern era, shows an Egyptian Coptic Christian fleeing from an angry Muslim mob. Egyptian police looked on while the mob smashed up a clinic where a Christian doctor worked.
Then it showed the doctor talking to his daughter about what makes an "Islamic terrorist".
After that, the clips shifted to historical scenes from the period of the Prophet, most of these were based on sets where the actors are clearly superimposed on a desert background.
In other scenes, the Prophet is portrayed as a bloodthirsty leader, encouraging his followers to loot places they attack and says they can use children in whatever way they wish.The film was posted on YouTube in June but drew attention last week when an Egyptian-American Copt produced a trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and e-mail newsletter publicizing the movie.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur'an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet, saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
Angry with the film, protestors scaled the wall of the US embassy in Egypt and burnt the American flag.
Protestors also attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, killing four diplomats, including the American ambassador.
"We condemn the attack on the American embassy, which had nothing to do with the production of this intentionally inflammatory film, Awad said.
American Muslims said producers of the offensive movie do not represent the United States.
Those who created this trashy film do not represent the people of America or the Christian faith, Awad said.
Ahead of protests in Cairo, the US embassy had put out a statement condemning "misguided individuals" who hurt the religious feelings of Muslims or followers of other religions.
"We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others," the US embassy said in its statement.
The American Muslim leader called for promoting inter-faith understanding to help end insults to religions.
The only proper response to intentional provocations such as this film is to redouble efforts to promote mutual understanding between faiths and to marginalize extremists of all stripes, Awad said.
Insulting the Prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam.
The Muslim anger at the movie echoes a similar uproar in 2005 over Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet.
In September 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 drawings, including one showing a man described as Prophet Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb and another showing him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.
The Danish cartoons had triggered massive demonstrations across the Muslim world and resulted in the boycott of Danish products and interests.
The reprint of the controversial drawings by European papers strained Muslim-West ties.The crisis prompted Muslims in Denmark and worldwide to champion local campaigns to wash away widely circulated misconceptions about Prophet Muhammad.