Even as anti-American protests spread to 20 countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, details about “Innocence of Muslims” and what role the controversial video may have played in sparking the violence have been difficult to come by. In the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya (in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed), no one seemed to know who the pseudonymous producer of the anti-Muslim video was, or where he was from.
Soon, however, several actors involved in the film began to step forward to say they were duped by the producer, who cast them for a project called Desert Warriors that did not contain a Prophet Muhammad character, but rather a man named George; it was also dubbed with new dialogue. Among the cast members is Anna Gurji, an actress who wrote to Neil Gaiman — they had met during a read-through of Blood Kiss, in which he has a small role — saying, “I feel shattered.”
“It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all,” she wrote in a letter posted on Gaiman’s website. “It’s painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.”
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who allegedly produced the film under the name “Sam Bacile,” was questioned by federal authorities over the weekend, and is now in hiding with his family. Federal probation officials are reviewing whether Nakoula, who was convicted of bank fraud, violated the terms of his probation that prohibit him from using a computer.
“Like I explained to Inside Edition, I feel awful … I did not do anything but I feel awful,” Gurji continued. “I feel awful that a human being is capable of such evil. I feel awful about the lies, about the injustice, about the cruelty, about the violence, about the death of innocent people, about the pain of offended people, about the false accusations. I don’t know what else to do but speak the truth. I will not go into hiding (since I have nothing to hide), because if we don’t speak the truth, there is no world worth living for.”
Read Gurji’s entire letter on Gaiman’s website.