Media for Christ Produced Incendiary Film
by Rachel Tabachnick
According to the New York Times, the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California, and MercuryNews.com in Silicon Valley, the production organization that received the permit for the movie now known as "Innocence of Muslims" is Media for Christ. Media for Christ (website offline at posting) was founded and is led by Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih, an Egyptian Coptic Christian who has been promoted by many of the country's most vocal anti-Muslim agitators.
Nasralla has spoken at rallies organized by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (hugging Nasralla in photo at right) and has partnered in projects with Steve Klein and Gary Cass, including the 911 Defend Our Students Campaign. Cass is founder of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, an anti-gay and anti-Muslim organization that includes a who's who of Religious Right luminaries on its advisory board. Media for Christ includes a production house for "The Way," a Christian satellite television program in English and Arabic launched in 2010.
[Authors Note: Many outlets are linking to the website www.mediaforchrist.org, which has no relationship with Joseph Nasralla's organization. Nasralla's website is www.mediaforchrist.net. It is predominately in Arabic and is currently offline.]
"Media for Christ, which has its administrative offices south of the 210 Freeway in Duarte, took out a film permit for the production, according to City Manager Darrell George.It is important to note, as stated in the Wall Street Journal, that Media for Christ and Joseph Nasralla do not represent Egypt's Coptic Christians.
...It was filmed in Santa Clarita," George said. He said he obtained the information from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department."
"The views espoused by The Way TV and Media for Christ appear to be far from the norm among Egyptian Christians, known as Copts—a mainstream group of Christians with moderate views similar to those of other major Christian religions. The Coptic Church, like the Greek Orthodox Church, has its own hierarchy and leadership."If the information from the Press-Telegram and other sources is correct, and Media for Christ produced the movie, then it is a product emerging from the heart of the Islamophobia industry in America.
The video embedded below is from the Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller-sponsored 911 Freedom Rally in 2011 and posted by Geller's Atlas Shrugged. Spencer introduces Nasralla as "coming from California, where he operates The Way, a Christian satellite TV station."
Joseph Nassralla at AFDI/SIOA 911 Freedom Rally
Nasralla (also spelled Nassralla) participated in the 2010 anti-mosque rally at Ground Zero, also sponsored by Geller and Spencer, and received media coverage because of an incident at the event. The crowd surrounded Nasralla and another Egyptian speaker mistaking them as Muslims.
Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of David Horowitz's Freedom Center. Spencer and Geller founded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), an affiliate of Stop Islamization of Europe and a project of their American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). The AFDI is the sponsor of anti-Muslim advertisements on buses in Manhattan and San Francisco. Spencer and Geller describe their inflammatory activism as being "pro-Israel," although they have no doubt alienated many supporters of Israel. Sources, including a 2011 Slate article, counted the references to Geller, Spencer, and their collaborators in the writings of Norway's mass killer Anders Breivik, and found them cited over 250 times.
It was Spencer and Geller that organized the 2009 rallies around Rifqa Bary, the Muslim girl who ran away from home with the aid of her Christian proselytizers. See previous posts on this issue ( 1, 2, and 3) including the role of controversial pastor Terry Jones, who has also been reported as promoting the movie in question.
Media for Christ
Media for Christ received its non-profit designation with the IRS in 2009 and is described in the filings as follows.
"Media for Christ is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual aid to people worldwide through its web site and its satellite TV station, the Way TV."According to the organization's 990 tax forms, Nasralla (listed as Joseph N. Abdelmasih) is the president, Kamal Rizk of Raleigh, N.C. is vice president and CPA, and Rania W. Mossad is secretary of the non-profit. Income increased from 65,000 dollars in 2007 to over one million dollars in 2011. The latest available 990 showed a "program expense" of $10,500 dollars for "TV broadcast" in Egypt.
I have been unable to find additional information on the other two registered officers of Media for Christ - Kamal Rizk and Rania Mossad - but the 2011 obituary of Kamal Rizk's brother describes him as "the son of a furniture shop owner in Cairo." Kamal Rizk is quoted in the obituary,
Kamal Rizk described his brother as a devout Christian who attended a Jews for Jesus worship service on weekdays and a regular church service on Sundays. He was also an active supporter of Israel and traveled to Washington each July to work with a group led by evangelist John Hagee to lobby Congress for support of Israel.
The Way TV includes a show hosted by Steve Klein called "Wake Up America." Klein has told press that he "consulted" on "The Innocence of Muslims" movie, but denied to the press that Media for Christ produced the film. Klein and others have pointed to a "Sam Bacile" as director of the film, apparently a fictitious name. See the SPLC's report on Steve Klein.
Klein, Nasralla, and Gary Cass are partners in an anti-Muslim student outreach effort titled 911 Defend Our Students, which has included handing out fliers to students as they leave their schools. A Christian Newswire press release describes the program in the words of Cass,
"Muslims are trying to convert and radicalize our young people. By telling them the truth about the dangerous doctrines of Islam and the and wicked practices of Mohammad we are protecting our children."Cass, former executive director of James Kennedy's Reclaiming America for Christ, co-founded the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission with General William S. Hollis. Projects have included a series of videos titled "Seven Reasons Barack Obama is not a Christian." The advisory board includes Matt Staver, Rick Scarborough, Lou Sheldon, Dick Bott, Ted Baehr, Don Wildmon, Leslee Unruh, and other Religious Right luminaries. Cass is one of the "Broadcast Celebrities of The Third Rail, along with Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, Larry Pratt, and other "veteran patriots."
In photo at right, Joseph Nasralla (left) and Morris Sadek (right) are featured at the 2011 rally sponsored by Spencer and Geller. Morris Sadek leads the National American Coptic Assembly and is reported as promoting the "Innocence of the Muslims" video in Egypt.
Another name that has emerged in the production of the movie is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, another Coptic Christian who has been described by ABC News as the "manager for the company that produced" the film. Nakoula, who was convicted of bank fraud in 2010, was located by press that tracked the phone number of Sam Bacile to Nakoula's address. This led to speculation that he was possibly the fictitious Bacile and responsible for the film. Someone using the name of Sam Bacile claimed to be an Israeli American and stated that the movie was funded by Jewish donors.
Update: Please note that some bloggers are going to a different Media for Christ website (mediaforchrist.org) that has videos of John Piper and Greg Laurie and has absolutely nothing to do with Joseph Nasralla's organization. Nasralla's website is primarily in Arabic and is currently offline. The LA Times describes the movie as the product of Joseph Nasralla and Nakoula Nakoula.
Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon1 from Cerritos, emerged Thursday as forces behind "Innocence of Muslims."Also see Mondoweiss and Pamela Geller's response to that post.
...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.
On this general topic, also see The Public Eye's report Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.
1 Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles Wednesday that he managed logistics for the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad.
The movie has been blamed for inflaming mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya this week as well as U.S. Embassy in Yemen on Thursday.
Nakoula ran afoul of the law in 2010, when he pleaded no contest to federal bank fraud charges after being indicted in a somewhat intricate scheme involving fake bank accounts created using stolen Social Security numbers. He was given a 21 month prison sentence and had to pay $790,000: