The man behind the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims, has been sentenced to a year in jail. Mark Basseley Youssef will spend the next several months behind bars, not because of the film but for violating the terms of his probation, a judge said Wednesday (Nov. 7).
Youssef was on probation for bank fraud of which he was convicted in 2010. “I’m not going to say much about the movie because he’s not here because of the content of the movie,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dougdale.
While in court Youssef admitted to four out of eight violations, including using a fake name. After negotiating with his attorney, Steven Seiden, prosecutors agreed to drop four of the charges.
Despite the announcement from Dougdale, which the judge agreed with, Seiden believes that his client is being targeted because of the film. “In my opinion, the government used these proceedings to chill my client’s 1st Amendment rights.”
The film’s trailer was posted online in July but didn’t spark protest until early September. In addition to likening Islam to cancer, Innocence caused a fury for portraying Prophet Muhammad in a variant of disparaging ways including being a pedophile. Outrage over the depiction resulted in protests in the Middle East and North Africa, reaching its peak with a September 11 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya.
Through his lawyer, Youssef offered a statement on the controversy. “The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama Bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology.”
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Photo: LA Times