CAIRO -- Egypt’s prosecutor general referred seven Egyptians Christians living in the United States and Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones to court for trial on charges that they offended Islam in connection with an anti-Muslim film that has triggered protests around the globe.
The seven Egyptians -- identified by state media as Morris Sadek, Morkos Aziz Khalil, Fekry Abdelmessieh, Nabil Adib Bassida, Nahed Metwally, Nader Farid Nicola and Elia Bassily, who is also known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula -- were also accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad, inciting sectarian strife in Egypt and threatening the country's independence and peace, according to a state-run news agency.
The prosecutor general requested that the eight defendants be arrested by Interpol and handed over to Egyptian authorities.
The news agency said prosecutors decided to charge the defendants after reviewing accusations that the defendants helped in the production and online promotion of movies defaming Islam and Muhammad.
One of the films, "Innocence of Muslims," has sparked outrage in many nations with large Islamic populations. It portrays Muslims as child molesters and thugs.
Authorities issued arrest warrants against all defendants. No trial date was announced. The charges could result in a death sentence.
Nakoula, who lives in Cerritos, reportedly has denied involvement with "Innocence of Muslims" and has gone into hiding.
Jones, who expressed support for the film, is a pastor of a nondenominational Christian church in Gainesville, Fla. He previously angered Muslims across the world by burning a copy of the Koran.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians have repeatedly distanced themselves from the movie and its producers. Last week, the Maspero Youth Union, a group of Christian activists, joined peaceful protests to denounce the movie, saying it was “provoking and offensive” to Islam as well as the sanctity of religion.
-- Reem Abdellatif in Cairo
Photo: Muslims burn the U.S. flag and shout anti-American slogans Tuesday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Chennai, India, as protests around the globe continued against the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims." Credit: Associated Press