Los Angeles News
Filmmaker Of Anti-Islam Piece Gets Prison Time
By Katherine Noland
Nov 8, 2012 - 2:10:05 PM

LOS ANGELES—Producer of the highly controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” was sentenced to one year in federal prison on Wednesday, November 7 for violating his probation.

Court sketch of Mark Basseley Youssef (Mona Shafer Edwards/AP)

Fifty-five year-old, Egyptian-American Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to violating his probation from a prior conviction of bank fraud and identity theft that landed him in federal prison for 21 months. He owed $794,700 in restitution. Youssef was released from prison in June 2011 (where he wrote the script) with one of the conditions of his 5-year probation being forbidden access to the Internet, devices with Internet, and allowing others to use it for him without proper approval from his probation officer.


The YouTube trailer of his anti-Islam film was released this past September under which he used the alias of Sam Bacile.


The film negatively portrays the Muhammad by representing him as disrespectful to women, a relentless killer, and a child molester. Despite the message of the film, the judge and prosecution claim that his sentence has nothing to do with the content of what was produced. Youssef’s attorney, Steven Seiden, counterpoints this argument, claiming there is a clear undertone of violation of Youssef’s freedom of speech.


The actors and actresses of the film are outraged, as the film was dubbed with controversial dialogue that they otherwise would not have agreed to. Depiction of Muhammed in Islam is considered extremely taboo, and according to one actress, who reported to ABC News, “I never heard Muhammad. I never said Muhammed." Cast members feel as though their careers have been ruined and are receiving death threats. Seiden argues that Youssef had a right as a filmmaker to edit the film as desired, and the cast had signed releases.

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