The ‘Maverick’ Egyptian-American Copt Behind the Anti-Muslim Film

RNS file photo by David Gard/The Star-Ledger
Terry Jones said he would promote a crude film that portrays Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as s sexual pervert. RNS file photo

When inflamed mobs stormed the U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, the media quickly looked to a likely spark.

Florida Pastor Terry Jones ignited deadly riots by threatening to burn Qurans in 2010, and by torching the Islamic holy text last year. Recently, Jones said he would promote a crude film that portrays Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a foolish sexual pervert.

But in the days before the protests, Jones made no public mention of the film called Innocence of Muslims — even as he prepared to stage an “International Judge Muhammad Day” on Sept. 11.

Instead, the man who translated the film into Arabic, sent it to Egyptian journalists, promoted it on his website and posted it on social media was an obscure Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who lives near Washington and proudly touts his ties to Jones.

The Quran and Gender Equality

American Palestinian physician Laila al-Marayati believes that the Quran speaks to women and men in a manner that eliminates the gender issue. "For instance," she said, "in [the Quranic version of] the story of Adam and Eve, Eve does not lead Adam astray, and both are forgiven."

Psychologist Ilham al-Sarraf explained how Islam helped end the practice of female infanticide in the Middle East. "These were a tribal desert people who relied on men to herd camels. Females were not considered an asset to the survival of the nomadic way of life," she said. "The Quran prohibited [female infanticide] in the most vigorous language that left no room for misinterpretation."

Putting such teachings into practice isn't easy. "The belief system that minimized women was deeply ingrained, however," al-Sarraf explained, "and in some remote areas where the people were not educated, women have been held back. That is why it is important for the feminist movement to take on the responsibility to read the Quran as it is revealed and demand the enactment of verses that stipulate the equality of men and women."

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2001
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