Egypt orders arrest of US-based Copts over film

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted by authorities from his home in California on 15 September 2012 Police in California have already questioned Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Authorities in Cairo have ordered the arrest of seven US-based Egyptian Coptic Christians for their alleged involvement in an anti-Islam video.

The crude production posted on YouTube has sparked violent protests and riots across the Muslim world for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

It is unclear who made the film, but it has been linked to an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in the United States.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for US Christian pastor Terry Jones.

One woman and seven men, including Mr Jones, are accused of "insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet and inciting sectarian strife", according to the prosecutor's office.

It said international police agency, Interpol, would be notified of the warrants.

However, Interpol later denied it had received a request and noted that its constitution forbade it from "undertaking any matter of a predominantly political, military, religious or racial nature".

Basseley named

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted fraudster living in California who has already been questioned by police there, is among those facing charges, the prosecutors office said.

The film, a crudely-made portrayal of the life of the Prophet Muhammad ignited angry protests last week, mostly outside US and other Western diplomatic offices.

The unrest in Cairo has been among the most violent. Demonstrators there managed to scale the US embassy, tear down the US flag and replace it with an Islamist one.

Mystery has shrouded the individuals behind the film, entitled Innocence of Muslims.

Florida-based Mr Jones is said to have promoted the film.

He sparked protests two years ago when he pledged to organise a mass burning of copies of the Koran in Florida.

In a separate development, a Copt who lives in central Egypt was on Tuesday sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted by a misdemeanour court of blasphemy, insulting the Prophet Muhammad and insulting President Mohammed Mursi.

Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were allegedly published on his Facebook page. The man, who is a teacher, denied the charge.

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