Pope Benedict started a visit to Lebanon in the Middle East recently, as angry demonstrations and attacks on Western interests continued to spread across the region and into Asia. They came in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his U.S. colleagues.
The Libyan U.S. consulate attack was allegedly triggered by the discovery of an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States by someone linked to Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Copt resident in the United States. It was the film’s translation into Arabic and broadcast on Arab TV stations and talk shows that sparked the violence — although investigations are now under way in Washington to establish whether the worst of the violence was not spontaneous.
In Egypt, the religious TV channel al-Nas showed clips from the offending video, dubbed into Arabic, and scenes posted online have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Egypt Independent, the English version of one of Egypt’s leading newspapers Al Masry al Youm, has reported that Sadek was banned from entering Egypt and had his citizenship revoked in May 2011 because he called for war against the country.
Egyptian Coptic organizations moved quickly to distance themselves. Egyptian intellectual and researcher Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity, said the much-hyped film was “stupid and sickening. . . We don’t know for sure if Maurice Sadek has anything to do with the film” but if he has, “I think Sadek took the opportunity to provoke Muslims in Egypt, as usual.”
Other Egyptian Christian leaders also condemned the film. The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement condemning the film as “abusive” to the Prophet Mohammed, “carried out by some Copts living abroad,” and “rejecting such acts that offend religious beliefs and all religions.”