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The 10 Best Egyptian Movies Every Film Lover Should See

Egyptian cinema is a flourishing industry, which has spawned an exceptional selection of features over the decades. From epic love stories and heart-wrenching social dramas to political panoramas, these films portray the rich culture that Egypt has to offer, and its influence on the international scene.

The Nightingale’s Prayer is a tragic and sad story told by Amna, an illiterate young woman from a small village in rural Egypt. Exposing the harsh reality of the country’s landscape in the early 20th century, the feature is a glimpse into the strict patriarchal society in which men control families and women are stripped of all rights. The beautiful story is set to a timeless soundtrack and it really is one of the country’s cinematic gems. It is a movie that will make you re-examine your own life, your relationships with others and the kind of human beings that we really are.

The Flirtation of Girls | ©IMDb

The Flirtation of Girls follows the story of a poverty-stricken Arabic language teacher that is sacked from a girls’ school for being unable to control the badly behaved students. When his friend finds him a job as a private tutor for a young girl, she in turn helps him appreciate the life that he had scorned for so long. As well as being a beautifully delicate story to follow, the movie also encompasses many of Egypt’s historical sights, exposing the melting pot of culture beneath.

Directed by Youssef Chahine, Cairo Station was selected as Egypt’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 31st Academy Awards. It focuses on the life of a lame newsstand owner that is helplessly unlucky in love and shunned by all women. Nevertheless, he is not deterred and becomes obsessed with Hannuma, a beautiful cold drink vendor. When his proposal is rejected, his obsession soon turns to madness. In this microcosmic melodrama, we come head-to-head with hard-hitting themes of social injustice and the cultural chasms that come with love, suffering and, above all, universal human experience.

In this hard-hitting social drama, a poor woman becomes a symbol of workers’ oppression. Azziza is subject to brutal assault when she gathers potatoes for her husband, but due to his terrible health, she decides not to tell him of her ordeal. When she finds out that she is pregnant, she becomes a martyr figure for other struggling peasants. Undoubtedly, this is most one of the most important films to watch in Egyptian cinema, and The Sin was even nominated at Cannes.

The sin (1965) | © IMDb

Another feature focusing on oppression, The Land follows a small village struggling against the local landowner across two generations. Undoubtedly one of the best films of Youssef Chahin, it exposes the plight of peasants in the 20th century to a backdrop of a historical soundtrack featuring Ali Ismail. The movie not only exposes the culture of the Nile, but also heavily focuses on those individuals living on its banks, placing a spotlight on social hierarchy to a stunning visual backdrop.

Ezzat El Alaili and Nagwa Ibrahim in The Land (1969) | ©IMDb

Arguably one of the greatest Egyptian movies to be ever made, The Night of Counting the Years is a story based on true events. When a government official discovers that mummies are being openly sold in Cairo, an investigation begins. The ancient Horbat tribe who are secretly raiding the legendary site of royal artifacts soon come head-to-head with the Egyptian law and the government. This beautiful feature is wonderfully restored by Martin Scorsese‘s World Cinema Foundation, which uses original 35mm camera and sound techniques preserved at the Egyptian Film Center in Giza.

The Night of Counting Year (Mubi)

Hassan works as a bus driver and a taxi driver at night in order to raise enough money to save his father’s carpentry business. Arguing with his wife over having to work nights, the disputes usually end in domestic violence. In this family drama, which involves brothers, sisters-in-law and children, tensions are stretched to their limit, exposing the harsh reality at the heart of relationships and fortune.

The Bus Driver (1982) | ©IMDb

In this popular Egyptian comedy, Terrorism and the Kebab, Ahmed works two jobs and is forced to take one day off to arrange for his children to attend a school nearer their home. Due to the laborious bureaucratic process, he is forced to take another day, and finally gets so frustrated that he procures weapons and takes over the building altogether. Considered to be a ‘crazy terrorist’ by officials, when they finally begin dialogue with him, they realize his hilariously simple demands. A wildly popular comedy in Egypt, it will guarantee many laughs.

Set in the 1990s at the time of the first Gulf War, The Yacoubian Building is a critical portrayal of modern Egyptian society and is reportedly the highest-budgeted feature in the history of Egyptian cinema. Opening up on a building in downtown Cairo, the movie traces its history and the principal characters that abide within it. Each of their stories are intertwined with one another’s, and in the process, The Yacoubian Building profiles the corrupt political and struggling social systems at the heart of Egyptian communities. The film was even submitted to the 79th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, so should not be missed.

Asmaa portrays a story of a woman suffering from AIDS, who, instead of giving up, decides to continue to battle with the disease. In her determination to recover from the crippling condition, she helps those enduring the same predicament by providing them with a glimmer of hope. The strength that she exudes is heart-warming and it is testament to the human condition in overcoming ridicule and gender stereotypes. In Egypt, this is the first drama to portray AIDS patients sympathetically and in turn, it gives us inspiration regarding ‘love, courage, overcoming fear, and fighting for personal rights.’

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Can YouTubers give kiss of life to Egyptian cinema?

CAIRO — For budding actors in Egypt, the Hollywood of the Middle East, being discovered no longer means endless auditions or cruising the cafes where they hope to meet a director or producer. In our days, they may try their luck at cyberspace — YouTube or TikTok — hoping that their widely followed clips or prank shows can catch the eye of a producer and land them a cushy film deal.

This is exactly what happened to Ekramy Hagras, a widely followed influencer whose shows on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok attract hundreds of thousands viewers. Hagras' short clips and sarcastic prank shows have about 1.7 million followers on YouTube, and his Facebook account is followed by about 459,000 people.

In January, this fast-talking, widely gesticulating young man was cast in "Global," a political drama that largely resembles “Joker.” He will play the title role, played by Joaquin Phoenix in the original version.

The cast of the film, which is to be produced by Egypt’s Global Media, includes a number of activists and influencers on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, or YouTubers such as Samir Sobhi and Eslam Shendy, a pop singer who has more than 62,000 followers on Facebook.

These “new media stars” are cast to play alongside veteran actors such as Ahmed Seyam, who seems happy enough with the casting.

The presence of the new actors in “Global” will turn this film into a unique experience, Seyam told Al-Monitor, adding, “The production does not rely on well-known film stars, so if it turns out to be a success this will confirm that artistic success depends on a good idea and good actors — not on the huge amounts of cash you pay to stars."

As soon as the trailer of the film was posted online, many fans of Hagras and Shendy wrote enthusiastically about the film on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. But others criticized the decision of "Global" to cast Hagras in the title role and give prominent parts to other influencers and YouTubers, claiming that one's popularity on YouTube — in online prank shows, sarcastic stand-ups or "musicallies" (lip-synced music videos) — are no indication that these people can act.

“Idiots of TikTok becoming superheroes or what?” Fares Ezz-Eldin commented on the trailer, while Mohamed Abdo wrote, “The silly TikTok guy is starring in a film along with his silly friends.”

Though YouTube and social media clips reach a wide audience, they are often criticized for their racy lyrics, revealing clothes worn by the singers or simply for being shallow, offensive, dangerous or illegal. For example, a controversial YouTube couple — Ahmed Hassan and Zeinab Mohamed — have been facing trial since August 2019 for putting their baby in danger with the sole purpose of improving their ratings. The attention-craving couple posted videos of the newborn crying for long periods without tending to him in order to mock mothers whom they regard as slaves to their babies. Other videos showed the couple trying to test the reactions of the baby in dangerous situations, such as putting him in water or holding him out of the car window on a highway.

Hagras was a partner of Hassan and Mohamed in many of their prank videos over the past year.

Tarek Desouki, a member of the Egyptian Film Critics Association, said that getting non-actors to star in films was not unique to the present or to Egypt. “Many producers and directors have chosen singers, such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in the United States. In Egypt, Abdel Halim Hafez and Farid El-Atrash were initially known as singers,” he told Al-Monitor.

He noted that one never knows whether someone is a good actor unless you put him in front of the camera.

“Many singers such as Muharram Fuad and Mohamed Roushdi were not successful on the big screen. Hafez, on the other hand, became a well-known actor. This is actually what will happen with social media influencers — some of them will succeed and become known as actors and others will face failure several times, until they realize that they are not cut out for cinema,” he said.

The invasion of social influencers into the Egyptian cinema started in the last decade, gaining momentum in 2016. Some, such as Ahmed Amin and Amr Wahba, made a smooth transition to films and TV series.

Others made a start but could not quite reach fame and success. For example, the cinema career of stand-up comedian Shadi Srour began — and swiftly ended — with the Egyptian copycat of the award-winning film "Titanic.” He was never cast in another film again. Another online performer, Mohamed Mekawy, landed a minor role in 2018, but that was it.

According to Nader Adly, a member of the Egyptian Film Critics Association and director of the Alexandria International Film Festival, it is “natural” for activists and influencers of social networks to try their luck at cinema and become film stars. “It is the producers’ mistake to take them on without giving much thought to their abilities as an actor, simply because they think that those social media influencers would make it easier to market the film,” he told Al-Monitor.

The veteran critic explained that casting a singer to star in a film was different. “It is basically attempting to combine two art forms — music and cinema. It is a good choice, particularly if it is a musical or a lyrical film,” he said. “It may even work if the singer is not a particularly good actor. It is also possible to exploit non-actors in specialized acting roles such as choosing an athlete to perform the role of an athlete so he can play the scenes without a double.”

“However, there is no artistic justification for exploiting social media influencers and YouTubers as actors, except to take advantage of their followers and subscribers to market and promote the film,” he concluded.

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Top 5 Ancient Egypt Movies on Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube!

Top 5 Ancient Egypt Movies on Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube!

This is a guest post from Angela Newsom at Cross and Quill Media.

Text books, sentence memorization, reluctant readers. History can be a bore to some kids, but exciting to others. What makes the difference between the two students (or parents for that matter!)?

One of the most important things in being a teacher at home is to look for extra resources to help you in your task. You may use a certain curriculum that has a history textbook, they usually have only a few pages to try and etch important facts into the mind of your child.

You can look at a myriad of websites to try and find the things to make your historical studies come to life, but that takes so much time. Time that you do not have.

I felt this way when homeschooling my children. I have five little blessings under the age of 13, and it can be difficult to get all of the school aged kiddos to understand certain things from the history story of the world.

I looked for some videos to go along with what we were studying and found that the deeper I looked, the more that I found. I wanted a way to catalog all the things that I was finding, and so I bit the bullet and started a website.

Cross and Quill Media was born out of my need to have all the free video resources that I was finding in one place. I figured that there would be other homeschool parents that would want to find the same things, and boy was I right!

So many people have been cutting the cable box and turning to Netflix (and other media options) for their video needs. If you have a Prime Membership to Amazon, then you can watch tons of content for free or a small fee. Many people have only thought of YouTube as a place to watch funny baby or animal videos, but it is way better that that!

As you start off your study in history, you will most likely begin with Ancient Egypt. Almost all of this time will cross over into Biblical events, so you can do some of both.

One of the things that you need to consider is how far you want to go into the study of Ancient Egypt. There are some pretty gruesome practices when it comes to mummies. You will also find a culture that worships statues, false gods, and has a warped view of the “afterlife”. You will come across this in many documentaries, so you may want to preview them if you are concerned about the things that will be covered.

Here are the top five Ancient Egypt movies from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, not in any particular order.

  1. The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston) (Netflix DVD)

  2. Moses in Egypt, Told by Danny Glover with Music by The Sounds of Blackness (animated)(Amazon INSTANT)

  3. The Prince of Egypt(animated)(Netflix INSTANT)(You Tube)

  4. David Macaulay – Pyramid – (You Tube)

  5. National Geographic: Into the Great Pyramid – (Netflix INSTANT)

There are lots more videos to chose from, but this is a great start for your family as you study Ancient Egypt. Try to point out pyramid structures or buildings in familiar movies for this era. Have fun learning how to write your name with hieroglyphics, make a costume out of a sheet, mummify a Barbie doll, and have an Egyptian feast! It is time to make history FUN! Enjoy your viewing and come over to Cross and Quill Media to visit us at anytime…

You can also join us on our facebook group – Christian Homeschooling with Netflix, Amazon, You Tube, Roku and MORE!

The Eqyptian l History/Biography/Drama (1954)
Enjoy free Egyptian movies. Egypt is the film country of filmmakers like Chadi Abdel Salam, Youssef Chahine & Mohamed Khan. Explore Egypt's public domain cinema & television on The Vore. Legally watch free Egyptian movies online with English subtitles (Youtube, Hulu & etc.).

Where to watch movies in Egypt?

Free Egyptian movies movies in the public domain.

Our selection of public domain Egyptian movies & short films on Youtube, & Vimeo.

To turn on English subtitles for Youtube video's you might have to click on the CC Button.

Public domain, huh?

All these above English subtitled Egyptian movies can be watched without downloading. But if you wish, you CAN legally download public domain movies.

Legal subtitled Egyptian movies online

US residents may enjoy Hulu & Snagfilms - The Vore selects their top 2.

Legal, hmm?


Where to stream tv online in Egypt?

Egypt is also the country of tv series like Bab Al Khalk, El Mal We El Banon & Saheb El Saada. Check out what is available right now.

Already got a subscription or don't mind paying?
Do the movies feel as old as the Egyptian pyramids? We also have new ones:
- Best Egyptian movies out in 2019 & 2018 on Netflix & in Cinema

Youtube egyptian movies

Watch or Download Old Egyptian Movies for Free [100% Working Solution]

Are you a fan of old Egyptian movies, but can’t find any app to watch your favorite flicks online?
Don’t worry, just like you, a lot of people look for a secure solution to watch movies about old Egypt and its mythology. The good thing is that now you can use an app like Snaptube to watch old Egyptian films on your phone. In this post, I will suggest some of the classic old Egyptian movies that you can find on YouTube and would also provide a stepwise solution to watch/download them for free. Let’s get it started!

Watch and Download New or Old Egyptian Movies on Snaptube

If you are looking for a freely available Android app to watch old Egyptian films, then give Snaptube a try. The app runs on all the leading Android devices and lets us download videos from multiple sources. Since it has collaborated tons of platforms, you can find all sorts of new and old Egyptian movies from YouTube, Dailymotion, and other sources.
snap tube for android

  • Snaptube users can watch and download movies about old Egypt on the app without paying anything.
  • The application has integrated several platforms under one roof, letting you pick old Egypt movies of different genres without switching between apps.
  • If you want, you can directly load a video URL on Snaptube and download the old Egyptian movies in the resolution of your choice.
  • Snaptube supports the downloading of HD videos and also lets us download videos in optimized formats.
  • You don’t need to root your Android to use Snaptube or have to pay anything for its services.

Some Old Egyptian Movies Recommendation

If you are a fan of old Egyptian movies, then you would already have some favorites. Though, if you are exploring some old Egyptian movies with English subtitles, then I would recommend the following flicks.

1. I am Free (1958)

2. The Land (1969)

3. My Father Above the Tree (1969)

4. The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)

5. A Beginning and an End (1960)

6. The Nightingale’s Prayer (1959)

7. The Sin (1965)

8. Life or Death (1954)

9. A Bullet in the Heart (1944)

10. Two Orphans (1949)

How to Watch or Download Old Egyptian Movies on Snaptube

Using Snaptube to download old Egyptian movies from YouTube or any other source is extremely easy. You don’t have to root your phone or go through any unwanted hassle. All you got to do to watch or download old Egyptian movies is follow these steps:

Step 1: Download Snaptube on your phone

To start with, just go to the official website of Snaptube on any browser and download its APK. You can get the latest stable Snaptube APK from its website or any third-party downloader like UptoDown. Once the APK is downloaded, let your browser install it on your device.

Important Note:

If you are not able to install Snaptube, then make sure you have granted your browser permission to install apps on your device. Also, you can go to its Settings > Security to enable app installation from third-party sources.

Step 2: Search for old Egyptian movies

Now, launch Snaptube on your phone and search for any movie to watch or download from its search bar. You can enter keywords here or even paste a video URL from any other source.

By default, you will get old Egyptian movies results from YouTube. If you want, you can also select any other platform from Snaptube’s home to look for movies there or add any other source here as well.

Step 3: Watch or Download Old Egyptian Films

After getting the relevant results, you can tap on any video thumbnail and it will be loaded on Snaptube’s interface on its own. You can watch the video and check that a download icon would be activated at the bottom of the video player.

If you want to download old Egyptian movies, then just tap on the download button and select a preferred format and resolution option. That’s it! This will start the downloading process and you can later access the movie from your phone’s Video app or Snaptube’s Library.

I hope that after reading this guide, you would be able to watch or download old Egyptian movies of your choice. Since Snaptube has so many platforms integrated, you will never fall short of the movies about old Egypt to watch. Go ahead and check out your favorite old Egyptian films on Snaptube and share this guide with your friends to help them too.

updated by Chief Editor on 4月 28, 2020

حصرياً الفيلم الجري - فيلم حمام مغربي - بطولة غادة عبد الرازق وعبير صبري

Egypt’s ‘Mesh Ana’ trailer amasses the highest views worldwide for an Arab Film on YouTube


”Mesh Ana” stars a notable group of stars beside Hosny such as Hala Shiha, Sawsan Badr, Maged el Kidwany, among others.


The movie is produced by Hosny’s brother Hossam Hosny and directed by Sara Wafik.


“Nasl el Agrab” series theme song sang by Hosny amassed millions of views on YouTube.


Hosny sang World Handball Championship‘s official song. 



The song clip was shot in different Egyptian cites.


Hosny provided a dazzling performance as well in the World Handball Championship opening.






Hosny song ”Khaleek Folazy”  amassed over 5 millions of views on YouTube.

Hosny topped YouTube trend after releasing  ” Tam’atiny” and “Ad el Forak” songs.

 ”Tam’atiny” is written and composed by Belal Serour, “Ad el Forak” is written by Tamer Hussein and composed by Islam Zaki.



Hosny provided dazzling performance at the opening ceremony of CIFF in 2020.



Hosny sang the opening ceremony song titled “El Donia Film” ( The World Is A Movie).


Tamer Hosny’s song ” Nafs el Nehaya” ( The Same Ending) amassed 1.5 M views on YouTube in 15 hours.

The song is from Hosny’s latest album “ Khaleek Folazy” ( Stay Strong).

” Nafs el Nehaya” is written by Ahmed el Malky, composed by Madeen and distributed by Ahmed Abdel Salam.

Hosny’s song ‘Mabtlnash Ehsas’ previously topped YouTube trend.


Hosny released the song on October 16, 2020. “ Mabtlnash Ehsas’ is the first song from Hosny’s album “ Khaleek Folazy”.


Hosny and Lebanese heartthrob star Nancy Ajram performed their first concert in Egypt after COVID-19 halt on October 12, 2020 at Zayed Park.




Tamer Hosny and Mahmoud el Esseily topped Twitter trend after the release of their highly successful duo song “ Ektera’a” ( Invention).


The song is written by Ahmed Hassan Raoul, composed by Ahmed Zaeem and the song clip is directed by Tamer Hosny.


World Music Award congratulated Egyptian megastar Tamer Hosny on his sucessful song “ Leena Haya Baadein”

(We will have a Life Later).


Tamer Hosny‘s dramatic  song “ Leena Haya Baadein” from the series “ Madreset el Hob” surpassed  5.6 million views on YouTube in just 5 days after trending at 33 on the Global YouTube Counter” World Music Award wrote via its official Instagram account.



“ Leena Haya Baadein” is the theme song of the TV series “ Madraset el Hob” ( The School of Love) part 3.


Hosny celebrated his 43rd birthday on August 16, 2020.


On his birthday,Hosny asked his fans via a story he posted on his official Instagram account to remember him always and pray for him and his three kids, Adam, Amaya and Thalia.


Hosny is a singer, songwriter, composer and actor. He began his musical career in 2002. His romantic music has made him "the Star of the Generation", a name given to him by his fans.


Hosny won many awards, such as Best Selling Album in 2002 from the Nile Variety channel, Best Arab Artist at Murex D’Or in 2014 and 2016, and Best Arab Artist at the Middle East Music Awards in 2015.



He is also the first Arab artist to receive more than 100 million views on Anghami.





Now discussing:

Innocence of Muslims

2012 film by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Innocence of Muslims[1][2] is an anti-Islamic short film that was written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.[3][4] Two versions of the 14-minute video were uploaded to YouTube in July 2012, under the titles "The Real Life of Muhammad" and "Muhammad Movie Trailer".[5] Videos dubbed in Arabic were uploaded during early September 2012.[6] Anti-Islamic content had been added in post-production by dubbing, without the actors' knowledge.[7]

What was perceived as denigration of the Islamic prophet Muhammad resulted in demonstrations and violent protests against the video to break out on September 11 in Egypt and spread to other Arab and Muslim nations and to some western countries. The protests led to hundreds of injuries and over 50 deaths.[8][9][10][11]Fatwas calling for the harm of the video's participants were issued and Pakistani government minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offered a bounty for the killing of Nakoula, the producer.[12][13][14][15] The film has sparked debates about freedom of speech and Internet censorship.[16]

Plot and description

The video titled "The Real Life of Muhammad", uploaded on July 1, 2012, has a running time of 13:03 in 480p format. The video "Muhammad Movie Trailer" was uploaded on July 2, 2012, with a running time of 13:51 in 1080p format. They are similar in content.

The trailer starts with a scene portraying the reportedly increasing persecution of Copts and poor human rights in Egypt around the time of the film's production, with rise in church burnings, growing religious intolerance and sectarian violence that has been seen against the 10% population of Egypt that are Copts, and complaints that authorities have failed to protect this population.[17][18]The New York Times stated: "The trailer opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester, and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug."[19]

Most references to Islam have been overdubbed over the original spoken lines after filming had been completed.[20] The film's 80 cast and crew members have disavowed the film: "The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. ... We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."[21]

The script was written about life in Egypt 2,000 years ago and was titled Desert Warrior.[22] It was a story about a character called "Master George". Several actors were brought in to overdub lines. They were directed to say specific words, such as "Muhammad".[23] Hiding from the attack, a doctor and his family take shelter in their home where the doctor informs two women, implied to be his wife and daughter that the "angry mob in the city" is the "Islamic Egyptian Police". Presumably after the attack is over, he mentions that they had arrested 1,400 Christians, tortured them, and forced them to confess to "the killings". His daughter asks why they're doing that. Her father responds with "to protect Islamic crimes". The doctor then takes up a marker and begins writing on a whiteboard: "Man + X = BT". "BT" is overdubbed as "Islamic terrorist". His daughter asks what "X" is. He tells her that she needs to discover that for herself. It is implied X is Islam, however it is never brought up again.

The video continues with scenes set in pre-Islamic and early-Islamic Arabia. It starts around Muhammad supposedly being born 4 years after his father died. Some scenes depict the main character referred to in overdubbing as "Muhammad". In one scene, the "Muhammad" character's wife, "Khadija", suggests mixing parts of the Torah and the New Testament to create the Quran.[24] In another scene, the Muhammad is seen speaking to the donkey known as Yaʽfūr in Islamic tradition.[25] It goes on to suggest that Muhammad was a rapist, pedophile, homosexual, and supported religious persecution, and these actions were written in the Quran and contributed to the buildup of Islamist terrorist attacks.


A Vanity Fair article described the video as "Exceptionally amateurish, with disjointed dialogue, jumpy editing, and performances that would have looked melodramatic even in a silent movie, the clip is clearly designed to offend Muslims, portraying Mohammed as a bloodthirsty murderer and Lothario and pedophile with omnidirectional sexual appetites."[26]

Reuters said "it portrays Mohammad as a fool, a philanderer and a religious fake and in one clip posted on YouTube, he was shown in an apparent sexual act with a woman. For many Muslims it is blasphemous even to show a depiction of the Prophet."[27]

Filmmaker and promoters

The movie was written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, using the pseudonym of "Sam Bacile".[3][4][28] Nakoula claimed that he was creating an epic, two-hour film but no such film has come to light.[29]

The project was promoted by Morris Sadek by email and on the blog of the National American Coptic Assembly.[30]

According to a consultant on the project, the videos are "trailers" from a full-length film that was shown only once, to an audience of fewer than ten people, at a rented theater in Hollywood, California. Posters advertising the film used the title Innocence of Bin Laden.[31] The film's original working title was Desert Warrior, and it told the story of "tribal battles prompted by the arrival of a comet on Earth".[32] On September 27, 2012, U.S. federal authorities stated Nakoula was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly violating terms of his probation. Prosecutors stated that some of the violations included making false statements regarding his role in the film and his use of the alias "Sam Bacile".[33] On November 7, 2012, Nakoula pleaded guilty to four of the charges against him and was sentenced to one year in prison and four years of supervised release.[34][35]


In July 2011, Nakoula started casting actors for Desert Warrior, the working title at that time.[22] The independent film was directed by a person first identified in casting calls[36] as Alan Roberts, whose original cut and filmed dialog and script did not include references to Muhammad or Islam.[37][38] According to the announcement, it was to be "an HD 24P historical Arabian Desert adventure film" with "Sam Bassiel" as producer with shooting to start in August 2011. The lead was to be "George: male, 20–40, a strong leader, romantic, tyrant, a killer with no remorse, accent".

American non-profit Media for Christ obtained film 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.[39]Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, president of Media for Christ, claimed that the company's name was used without his knowledge. He also stated that the film was edited afterwards without Media's involvement.[40] Steve Klein, an anti-Muslim activist, claimed to be the spokesman for the film.[41] Klein told journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that despite previous claims, "Bacile" is not a real person and is neither Israeli nor Jewish and that the name is a pseudonym.[42] Israeli authorities found no sign of his being an Israeli citizen,[43] and there was no indication of a "Sam Bacile" living in California or participating in Hollywood filmmaking.[44]

By September 13, 2012, "Sam Bacile" was identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Coptic Christian from Egypt living near Los Angeles, California,[45] with known aliases.[46] In the 1990s, he served time in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine.[45][47] He pleaded no contest in 2010 to bank fraud charges, was sentenced to 21 months in prison,[45][47] and was released on probation in June 2011.[48] Nakoula claims to have written the script while in prison and raised between $50,000 and $60,000 from his wife's family in Egypt to finance the film.[3][49] The FBI contacted him due to the potential for threats, but said he was not under investigation.[50] On September 27, 2012, U.S. federal authorities arrested Nakoula in Los Angeles for suspicion of violating terms of his probation. Violations included making false statements regarding his role in the film and his use of the alias "Sam Bacile". On November 7, 2012, Nakoula pleaded guilty to four of the charges against him and was sentenced to one year in prison and four years of supervised release.[34][35]

Law professor Stephen L. Carter[51] and constitutional law expert Floyd Abrams[52] have each stated that the government cannot prosecute the film's producer for its content because of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of speech in the United States.

Screening and Internet upload

Vine Theater, Hollywood, California, where the single screening took place

The video production "Innocence of Bin Laden" was advertised in the Anaheim-based newspaper Arab World during May and June 2012. The advertisement cost $300 to run three times in the paper and was paid by an individual identified only as "Joseph". The advertisements were noted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose Islamic affairs director stated, "When we saw the advertisement in the paper, we were interested in knowing if it was some kind of pro-jihadist movie." Brian Donnelly, a guide for a Los Angeles based tour of famous crime scenes who noticed the poster advertising at the Vine Theater, said, "I didn't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing. We didn't know what it was about because we can't read Arabic."[53] The earlier version of the film was screened once at the Vine Theater of June 23, 2012 to an audience of only ten people. The film had no subtitles and was presented in English. An employee of the theater stated, "The film we screened was titled The Innocence of Bin Laden", and added that it was a "small viewing".[54]

A second screening was planned for June 30, 2012. A local Hollywood blogger, John Walsh, attended a June 29 Los Angeles City Council meeting, where he raised his concerns about the title of a film to be screened that appeared to support the leader of al-Qaeda. He said "There is an alarming event occurring in Hollywood on Saturday. A group has rented the Vine Street theater to show a video entitled Innocence of Bin Laden. We have no idea what this group is." The blog site reported that the June 30 screening had been canceled.[55][56] A Current TV producer photographed the poster while it was being displayed at the theater as advertising to later discuss on the talk show The Young Turks.[57] The poster did not denigrate Muslims, but rather referred to "my Muslim brother". In a translation provided by the ADL, the poster stated it would reveal "the real terrorist who caused the killing of our children in Palestine, and our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan",[58] a phrase that has been used by Palestinians to protest U.S. support of Israel.[59]

Movie poster for Innocence of Bn Laden [sic] at the Vine Theater, June 2012.

The film was supported and promoted by pastor Terry Jones, known for a Quran-burning controversy, which also led to riots around the world.[60] Jones said that he planned to show a 13-minute trailer at his church, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, on September 11, 2012.[61] It was reported on September 14, 2012, that a planned screening by a Hindu organization in Toronto would be coupled with "snippets from other movies that are offensive to Christians and Hindus". Because of security concerns, no public venue was willing to show the film, although the group still planned on showing the film in the future to a private audience of about 200 people.[62][63] Siobhán Dowling of The Guardian reported that "a far-right Islamophobic group in Germany", the Pro Germany Citizens' Movement, had uploaded the trailer on their own website and wanted to show the entire film, but authorities were attempting to prevent it.[64]

Blocking of the YouTube video

Further information: Censorship of YouTube

The video clips were posted to YouTube on July 1 by user "sam bacile";[5] however, by September, the film had been dubbed into Arabic and was drawn to the attention of the Arabic-speaking world by blogger Morris Sadek. Sadek's own Egyptian citizenship had been revoked.[65][66] A two-minute excerpt dubbed in Arabic was broadcast on September 9 by Sheikh Khalad Abdalla[67][68] on Al-Nas, an Egyptian television station.[69]

YouTube voluntarily blocked the video in Egypt and Libya and blocked the video in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India, and Singapore due to local laws, while Turkey, Brazil, and Russia have initiated steps to get the video blocked.[70][71][72]Google, Inc., the owner of YouTube, also blocked the video in Libya and Egypt citing "the very difficult situation" in those countries.[73] In September 2012, the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, and Pakistan blocked YouTube for not removing the video, saying that the website would remain suspended until the film was removed.[74][75][76] Government authorities in Chechnya and Daghestan issued orders to internet providers to block YouTube, and Iran announced that it was blocking Google and Gmail.[77][78][79] Google also agreed to block the anti-Islamic movie in Jordan.[76]

The White House asked YouTube to review whether to continue hosting the video at all under the company's policies. YouTube said the video fell within its guidelines as the video is against Islam, but not against Muslim people, and thus not considered "hate speech".[71]Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said of this, "It does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship."[80]

Ninth Circuit court rulings on removal

Main article: Garcia v. Google

On February 26, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered YouTube to remove the video from its website by a 2-1 majority. The ruling was in response to a complaint by actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who had objected to the use of her performance, which had been partially dubbed for its inclusion in Innocence of Muslims. Garcia had believed during production that she was appearing in a film called Desert Warrior, which was described as a "historical Arabian Desert adventure film", and was unaware that anti-Islamic material would be added at the post-production stage. Garcia had argued that she held a copyright interest in her performance.[81][82]

In May 2015, in an en banc opinion, the Ninth Circuit reversed the panel's decision, vacating the order for the preliminary injunction.[83][84][85]Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director and spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), advised that people should not watch the film.[86]

Reactions and controversies

Further information: Reactions to Innocence of Muslims and International response to Innocence of Muslims protests

See also: 2012 Benghazi attack

Protesters in Kuala Lumpurtake to the streets to demonstrate against the film.

Protests were held in many nations, through Islamic countries in the Middle East,[87][88] Asia,[89][90] and Africa[89] as well as the United Kingdom,[89][91] France,[92] the Netherlands,[93] and Australia.[94][95]

See also


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