Alleged anti-Muslim filmmaker denies involvement, bishop says
This post has been updated. See note below.
The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii said he got a call Thursday from the alleged maker of the anti-Muslim film that has sparked violent protests, and that the man denied involvement.
Bishop Serapion said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula called him Thursday morning.
"He denied completely any involvement," Serapion said.
The bishop said Nakoula called the reports of his connection to the film "a political thing" and also suggested that the media might have been confused by the similarity of his middle name to the original purported filmmaker, Sam Bacile.
Serapion said he had not previously known Nakoula and had only learned of the film Tuesday, but that he had made inquiries to local Coptic churches and confirmed Nakoula was a real person and had sporadically attended some local churches, including St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Bellflower.
"He is not a regular member -- he comes and leaves," Serapion said. "Sometimes he disappears for many months. We don't know about his activities."
Serapion reiterated the official position taken by the Coptic Orthodox church in opposition to the anti-Muslim film.
"We condemn this film. We don't agree with this way of insulting others," he said. "... We also very strongly say it is unfair to put the responsibility of this kind of action on the Coptic church, even if some individuals were involved."
[Update, 1:54 p.m. Sept. 13: An earlier version of this post spelled the filmmaker's pseudonym as Sam Basile. The Times has been reporting it as Sam Bacile, although he has used multiple spellings of the name.]
-- Abby Sewell