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L.A. Now Live: Anti-Muslim film's Southern California roots

The low-budget anti-Muslim film that has sparked violence across the Arab world was filmed and produced in Southern California by unlikely collaborators.

Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon from Cerritos, on Thursday were identified as forces behind "Innocence of Muslims."

Times reporters Phil Willon and Harriet Ryan will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the latest details about the film and its backers.

Media for Christ, whose stated mission is to "glow Jesus' light" to the world, obtained permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and Nakoula provided his home as a set and paid the actors, according to government officials and those involved in the production.

In a sign of the tensions the movie has sparked, Los Angeles County officials said the U.S. State Department had asked them not to release copies of the film permits containing information about who organized the shoot. Obama administration officials also flagged the trailer to YouTube and asked the company to review whether it violated the website's terms of service.

Both men appeared to have gone into hiding Thursday.

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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