Film not intended to insult Muslims, US pastor Terry Jones says
The film which has triggered deadly protests in the Middle East over its portrayal of the Islamic faith is not intended to insult Muslims, a controversial US pastor who backs the movie said on Wednesday.
Terry Jones, who has sparked deadly protests in the past by burning copies of the Koran, also insisted that the deaths of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in an attack in Benghazi were not the result of the film.
“We have been contacted by the producer of the film, Innocence of Muslims, to help distribute it,” Jones said in a statement, referring to the movie which mocks the Prophet Mohammed, a 14-minute clip of which is available online.
“The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but ... to reveal truths about Mohammed that are possibly not widely known,” he said, adding it was “very clear that God did not influence him in the writings of the Koran.
“The fruits of the religion speak for themselves. For example the recent outbreak of violence and deaths is not because of the film, it is not because of the activities that we have done and that we will continue to do.
“These types of violent activities must be totally rejected. These people must be held accountable.”
US President Barack Obama quickly ordered increased security at US diplomatic missions around the world after the deadly protests on Tuesday, which coincided with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Jones said the violence which has accompanied protests in Libya’s Benghazi city and the Egyptian capital Cairo “again shows the true nature of Islam. Islam does not tolerate criticism of Mohammed, the Koran or Sharia.
“Because of their fear of criticism, knowing that if Islam and the Koran were closely examined, Mohammed and the Koran will be revealed for what it is, a lie and a deception,” the Florida-based pastor added.
In 2010, Jones drew widespread condemnation over his aborted plan to burn a pile of Muslim holy books to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Jones cancelled his plans under pressure from world leaders, but the mere threat to burn the Koran nonetheless sparked large protests in Afghanistan, in which at least 12 people were killed.
Earlier on Wednesday, the US military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey, called Jones to urge him to disavow the film, a Pentagon spokesman said.
“In the brief call, General Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause,” his spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said in an e-mail.
“He asked Mr Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film,” he said.
But a senior administration official said Jones made no pledge to stop promoting the film.
“He heard the chairman’s concerns but he was non-committal,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.