Calif. judge denies another bid by actress to take down anti-Muslim film from YouTube

LOS ANGELES — An actress who appeared in the anti-Muslim film blamed for sparking violence in the Middle East has lost another legal bid to have the trailer taken down from YouTube.

A federal judge in Los Angeles denied a motion for injunction on Friday by Cindy Lee Garcia. It wasn’t immediately known whether Garcia’s attorneys would file an appeal.

Garcia lost a similar legal challenge in state court when a judge rejected her lawsuit in September.

“Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a religious fraud and womanizer, enraged Muslims and ignited violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.

Garcia said she was duped by the man behind the film, Mark Bassely Youssef and the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Mohammad. She also said her voice had been dubbed over after filming.

Man Behind Anti-Islam Video Gets Prison Term

 

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the man behind “ Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Islam YouTube video that ignited bloody protests in the Muslim world, to one year in prison for violating parole.

The man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is also known as Mark Basseley Youssef, a name he legally adopted in 2002, appeared in Federal District Court here and pleaded guilty to four charges of violating a probation sentence imposed on him in 2010 after a bank fraud conviction. Each of his guilty pleas, worked out with prosecutors in advance, was related to his maintenance of the two identities.

In turn, the government agreed to drop four more probation violation charges, all of which pertained to Mr. Nakoulaís work on the “ Innocence of Muslims.” Prosecutors had maintained that Mr. Nakoula lied to the police about the extent of his involvement in the project.

In accordance with the sentencing request by Robert Dugdale, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that Mr. Nakoula would serve one year in prison followed by four years of probation. She rejected a request for home confinement in lieu of prison from Mr. Nakoulaís lawyer, Steve Seiden, telling Mr. Nakoula that he had already “ struck a deal far more favorable than he might have otherwise suffered.”

Man Tied to Anti-Islam Video Held on Probation Charge

LOS ANGELES — Muslims across the Middle East outraged by an anti-Islam film made in America wanted swift punishment for the man behind the movie, and now Mark Basseley Youssef is behind bars. But he’s jailed for lying about his identity, not because of the video’s content.

Court documents show Youssef, 55, legally changed his name from Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in 2002, but never told federal authorities, who now are using that as part of the probation violation case against him.

Youssef was ordered jailed without bail Thursday until a hearing is held to determine if he violated terms of his supervised release on a 2010 bank fraud conviction. Prosecutors allege he used multiple aliases and lied to his probation officers about his real name.

Youssef, an Egyptian-born Christian who’s now a U.S. citizen, sought to obtain a passport in his new name but still had a California driver’s license as Nakoula, assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Friday. Youssef used a third name, Sam Bacile, in association with the 14-minute trailer for the movie “Innocence of Muslims” that was posted on YouTube. It portrays Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile.

The case isn’t about Youssef’s First Amendment right to make a controversial film. Rather, Dugdale said, it’s about his failure to live up to his obligation to be truthful with federal authorities.

“The fact that he wasn’t using his true name with probation, that’s where the problem is,” said Dugdale, who noted federal authorities now will refer to Nakoula as Youssef.

Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles’ School of Law, said U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal’s decision to order Youssef held without bail is supported by the evidence.

Family of California man linked to anti-Muslim film goes into hiding

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Family members of a California man linked to an anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests across the Muslim world went into hiding on Monday, with sheriff’s deputies escorting them from their home to an undisclosed location, authorities said.

The family of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was accompanied from their two-story stucco house in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos before dawn on Monday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

“They are gone,” Whitmore said, adding that deputies gave the family a ride to an undisclosed location to meet Nakoula, who left the home voluntarily on Saturday to be interviewed by federal authorities and has not returned.

Whitmore said he did not know where Nakoula and his family were headed but they were not expected to return to the home in Cerritos, which has been besieged by the media for nearly a week.

Islamic Poultry for Latino Tables (Yes, They Have Chilies, Too)

LOS ANGELES — Sebastian Flores walked out of Al Salam Pollería with a free bag of white-feathered chicken heads.

Mr. Flores, 26, an immigrant and a regular customer of Al Salam, a Muslim, family-owned halal poultry shop, was driving home when he developed a craving for the treat. He was planning on sprinkling the chicken heads with poultry seasoning and roasting them in the oven, the way they did back home in Puebla, Mexico.

Customers like Mr. Flores are the lifeblood of Al Salam Pollería, a thriving shop that opened 28 years ago “by accident,” according to its founders. Abdul Elhawary and his brother-in-law, Safwat Elrabat, who died 12 years ago, opened the shop in East Los Angeles because the zoning there allowed the sale and on-site slaughter of live poultry, in accordance with their religion’s dietary requirements.

Animals must be killed according to Islamic law for their meat to be halal, a practice followed at the store only when a customer requests halal meat.

“Around 1989, when we found out that 90 percent of the customers are Latino and we only had 10 percent that are non-Latino, we changed the name in the business cards to Al Salam Pollería,” Mr. Elhawary said. Originally, it had been Al Salam Farms; “salaam” means peace in Arabic and “pollería” is poultry shop in Spanish.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Latinos and Muslims had many things in common.

Adrian Pantoja, a professor of politics and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said the family showcased the ways some of the city’s ethnic entrepreneurs had learned to adapt.

Mr. Flores, the customer with his bag of chicken heads, said he was a regular patron, and not just because of the quality of the food.

“Here they treat you well and they speak Spanish,” Mr. Flores said. “It’s good that they are willing to learn from another culture.”

US attorney general invokes state secrets privilege in suit Calif. Muslims filed against FBI

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion.

In a legal declaration filed late Monday, Holder makes a rare assertion of the state secrets privilege, arguing that it could cause significant harm to national security if the government is forced to reveal the subjects of a mosque-surveillance operation in 2006 and describe how the monitoring was carried out.
The FBI has said it does not initiate counterterrorism operations based solely on a group’s religion.

Muslim woman sues for being forced to remove headscarf in U.S. jail

LOS ANGELES: A Muslim woman arrested for riding a commuter train without a valid ticket has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States, claiming her religious freedom was violated when she was forced to remove her headscarf when she was taken to jail. Jameelah Medina also said she was intimidated by a deputy who accused her of being a terrorist and called Islam an “evil” religion, according to the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.