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'Innocence of Muslims' filmmaker sentenced to death in Egypt

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
The California man behind the "Innocence of Muslims" movie that triggered violence in the Middle East was sentenced to death Wednesday in absentia in an Egyptian court.

Mark Basseley Youssef was among the seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor sentenced on charges linked to the low-budget, anti-Islam film, the Associated Press reported.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and unlikely to ever serve the sentences, the wire service reported.

The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by Youssef, an Egyptian American Copt, who lived in Cerritos.

Parts of “Innocence of Muslims” were posted online, and the movie portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and womanizer.

Egypt's official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.

Youssef, who also used the alias Nakoula Basseley Nikoula, among other names, was sentenced in a California court this month to one year in federal prison for probation violations on a bank fraud case.

Youssef, 55, admitted he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver's license under a false name.

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-- From a Times staff writer

Photo: L.A. County sheriff's deputies take Mark Basseley Youssef into custody in September. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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