Pastor Terry Jones told the Associated Press that he was asked to promote the anti-Islam video [EPA]
Egyptian prosecutor's office has issued arrest
warrants for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based
American pastor for their alleged role in an anti-Islam video that has
sparked deadly riots across the Muslim world.
The warrants were released on Tuesday, referring the defendants to
trial on charges linked to the film entitled "Innocence of Muslims"
which portrays Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womaniser and buffoon.
Riots triggered by the video resulted in the deaths last week of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his colleagues.
four men were attacked in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, where an
armed rebellion that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi last year started.
More protests against the video have been held in Arab and Muslim
countries - including Afghanistan, Yemen and Indonesia - with
demonstrators calling on the US to punish the people behind the video.
The case is largely symbolic since the seven men and one woman are
believed to be outside of Egypt and unlikely to travel to the country to
face the charges.
The decision to take legal action appears aimed at placating some of
the public anger over the amateur film whose trailer has attracted tens
of millions of views on YouTube.Key defendants
Among those charged is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt
living in southern California and believed to be behind the film. Others
include Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones, who has said he was contacted
by the filmmaker to promote the video and Morris Sadek, a conservative
Coptic Christian in the US who pushed the video on his website.
The connection of the other five accused in the case to the film was not immediately clear.
Nakoula, 55, told the AP news agency in an interview last week
outside Los Angeles that he was the manager of the company that produced
"Innocence of Muslims".
Jones also told AP that he was contacted by Nakoula to promote the movie.
The prosecutor's office said in a statement that the accused, who
include the film's alleged producer, face charges of harming national
unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false
The office said they could face the death penalty, if convicted.
No date for the trial has been set.
Mamdouh Ismail, an ultraconservative Salafi lawyer, praised the prosecutor's decision.
While recognising that the eight will be tried in absentia, Ismail said referring them to trial will help curb public anger.
"Now these are legal measures instead of angry reactions, whose
consequences are undetermined," he said. "This would also set a
deterrent for them and anyone else who may fall into this" offence.
The prosecutor's statement, a copy of which was obtained by AP, said
that after studying the film investigators have determined that it
contains scenes offensive to Islam and state institutions.
It also says they questioned 10 plaintiffs before issuing the charges