Coptic, Muslim Leaders Denounce Middle East Violence

The two groups publicly condemned violence sparked by an anti-Muslim video made in Southern California

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles stood side-by-side on the steps of City Hall with the city’s Muslim leaders Monday as violent protests continued to rage across the Middle East and North Africa apparently sparked by a video mocking the Prophet Mohammed and believed to be created by a self-described Coptic Christian. The group denounced the film and those responsible for it during the unprecedented meeting. Ted Chen reports from West LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2012. (Published Monday, Sep 17, 2012)

    Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders stood shoulder to shoulder on Monday to publicly condemn the violence -- including the deadly siege of the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi -- that was sparked by a film associated with a self-described Coptic Christian that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

    Dr. Maher Hathout, an Egyptian born physician and senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Bishop Serapion, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, denounced the film, "Innocence of Muslims" at a press at Los Angeles City Hall.

    Coptic, Muslim Leaders Condemn Middle East Violence

    [LA] Coptic, Muslim Leaders Condemn Middle East Violence
    Coptic Christian and Muslim leaders condemn the Middle East violence sparked by an anti-Muslim video made in Southern California. Antonio Castelan reports for the NBC4 News at Noon outside Los Angeles City Hall on Sept. 17, 2012. (Published Monday, Sep 17, 2012)

    "There should have been no bloodshed. In fact, there should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production," said Hathout.

    Southern California is home to some 14,000 Coptic Christians families. Once the majority in Egypt, many of them fled to the U.S. after harassment and violence from Muslim extremists.

    O.C. Cleric's Teachings May Have Inspired Anti-Islam Film

    [LA] O.C. Cleric's Teachings May Have Inspired Anti-Islam Film
    The teachings of a controversial cleric based in Orange County may have inspired the man believed to be behind an anti-Islam film that's sparked violence across the Middle East. Janet Kwak reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sunday, September 15, 2012. (Published Sunday, Sep 16, 2012)

    "We strongly condemn any and all violent actions and the loss of any innocent lives," said Serapion. "Along with our organization, we mourn the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and his staff and offer our heartfelt condolences to their families."

    Muslims leaders said the violent protests do not represent the majority of those who practice Islam, a faith that, like Christianity, teaches forgiveness.

    Anti-Islam Filmmaker Remains in Hiding, Fails to Show up at Church

    [LA] Anti-Islam Filmmaker Remains in Hiding, Fails to Show up at Church
    The Cerritos man who's believed to be behind the anti-Islam film that's sparked violence across the Middle East is still in hiding. He did not show up Sunday at a Coptic Christian church where he's attended services in the past. Antonio Castelan reports for the NBC4 News Special Edition on Sunday, September 16, 2012. (Published Sunday, Sep 16, 2012)

    "When an ignorant person targets you, say peace and leave," Hathout said. "These are the teachers that will be more honoring, if you follow, to the name of the Prophet Muhammad rather than getting into a frenzy."

    The leaders pointed out that the frenzy does not exist in the U.S., where any tensions between Christians and Muslims is worked out through dialogue.

    Attention to Believed "Innocence of Muslims" Filmmaker Disrupts Neighbors

    [LA] Attention to Believed "Innocence of Muslims" Filmmaker Disrupts Neighbors
    Nakoula Besseley Nakoula, of Cerritos, was taken in for questioning shortly after midnight on Saturday. His neighbors are concerned with how disrupted their neighborhood has been since an anti-Islam film he allegedly made prompted violent international protests. Antonio Castelan reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2012. (Published Sunday, Sep 16, 2012)

    "The fact that two men from Egypt -- one Coptic Christian, one Muslim -- came together to speak together in unison speaks wonderfully about America because no religion is repressing another religion in America. We're all free," said Salam Al-Marayati with the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

    The news conference came as the Cerritos-based filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim film called "Innocence of Muslims" that sparked deadly riots in Libya and set off a wave of violent anti-American protests across the Middle East went into hiding with his family this week.

    In Wake of Anti-Islam Film, Vigil for Toleranace Held in Anaheim

    [LA] In Wake of Anti-Islam Film, Vigil for Toleranace Held in Anaheim
    As Sheriff's Department deputies kept watch over the Cerritos home of Nakoula Besseley Nakoula, the alleged maker an inflammatory anti-Islam film, a vigil in support of tolerance and moderate Muslims took place in Anaheim. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (Published Sunday, Sep 16, 2012)

    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a convicted bank fraudster, left after being questioned by his federal parole officer at a sheriff’s station. He is a self-described Coptic Christian.

    Nakoula, who has been identified as one of the makers of the film, was escorted from his home just after midnight on Saturday by deputies who took him to the Cerritos Station for questioning by his probation officer, sheriff's officials said.

    Believed "Innocence of Muslims" Filmmaker in Hiding

    [LA] Believed "Innocence of Muslims" Filmmaker in Hiding
    Nakoula Besseley Nakoula was interviewed by federal probation authorities early Saturday morning and released. The believed filmmaker behind an anti-Islam video being blamed for sparking violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa asked deputies to patrol his Cerritos home after media descended on the cul de sac. Now, he's gone into hiding. Janet Kwak reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2012. (Published Sunday, Sep 16, 2012)

    Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Christian Diocese of Los Angeles says Nakoula called him, insisting it wasn’t his fault.

    “He said, ‘I called to assure you that I am not behind this’,” Bishop Serapion said at today’s news conference.

    Federal probation officials in Los Angeles are investigating if Nakoula violated his probation stemming from a bank fraud conviction, authorities said Friday.

    The 13-minute “Innocence of Muslims” video, which was posted on YouTube, portrays the Muslim Prophet Muhammad engaged in apparently crude behavior. Such depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

    Protests played a role in mob violence in Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy SEALS from San Diego County, were killed on the anniversary of 9/11.

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