Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has sued a California man believed to have produced a video ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad. She says she was misled into believing the movie was about ancient Egyptians.
By NBC News and Reuters
An actress who appeared briefly in a movie that parodied the Prophet Muhammad and that triggered protests across the Islamic world sued a California man believed to have produced the video, saying she was misled to believe the video was a desert adventure movie about ancient Egyptians.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia also named Google and YouTube (owned by Google) as defendants, citing invasion of privacy and other allegations. The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court also requested that the video, titled the “Innocence of Muslims,” be removed from the Internet.
Garcia said the video has caused her great distress, the Los Angeles Times reported, and that she has received “credible death threats” and has been banned from caring for her grandchildren. She said in the filing that she was also fired from her job.
Actors and the assistant director of the film "Innocence of Muslims" told NBC News that the original spoken lines in the screenplay were dubbed over without their knowledge. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
“This is not a First Amendment issue,” Garcia’s attorney, M. Cris Armenta said, according to the LA Times. “This is an invasion of privacy issue.”
The movie was shown at a theater in Los Angeles three months ago with fewer than 10 people in attendance, the LA Times reported. The movie, a seemingly low-budget and cartoonish production, depicts Muhammad as moronic, childish and obsessed with sex. In one scene, the actor playing the role of the prophet places his head between the legs of Garcia’s character.
It wasn’t until a week ago that clips began circulating online and were broadcast on Egyptian media, sparking protests against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Libya. The attacks on the consulate resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Protests have spread to Tunisia and Australia, ranging from peaceful to violent. Seventeen people have been killed to date.
Since the protests began, a French satirical magazine produced cartoons that lampooned the prophet, triggering more outrage. In response, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, based in Saudi Arabia, has called for insults against religions to be made an international offense. The organization says that "growing intolerance towards Muslims" had to be checked and called for "an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of inciteful material."
Garcia claims that she was tricked by a filmmaker who went by the name Sam Bacile. His real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egypt-born Coptic Christian who lives in Los Angeles. He is on probation for convictions relating to federal financial crimes and was twice sentenced in the 1990s on drug charges, NBC News reported.
An ex-con named Nakoula Bessaly Nakoula was escorted from his Cerritos, Calif., home to answer questions about his role in a controversial anti-Islam film. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
The actress did not know there would be references to religion or any sexual content, the LA Times reported.
"It looks so unreal to me, it's like nothing that we even filmed was there," Garcia told Reuters in a phone interview. "There was all this weird stuff there."
An expired casting notice at Backstage.com listed a film named "Desert Warrior" that it described as a low-budget "historical Arabian Desert adventure film." None of the characters were identified in the casting call as Mohammad.
"They told me it was based on what it was like 2,000 years ago at the time of the Lord," Garcia said. "Like the time Christ was here."
NBC's Isolde Raftery contributed reporting.
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