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Cerritos Neighbors React After Anti-Islam Filmmaker Identified

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CERRITOS (CBSLA.com) — A Cerritos home believed to belong to the producer of an anti-Islam movie credited for provoking attacks on U.S. embassies by Muslim extremists was the focus of international attention on Monday.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is reportedly fearing for his life after his low-budget “Innocence of Muslims” was blamed for the deaths of a U.S. diplomat and three other Americans.

Nakoula told The Associated Press he was a manager of the company that produced the film, but he denied being the director, who has been identified as Sam Bacile.

He said the film — which has sparked widespread outrage for its depiction of the founder of Islam as a violent womanizer and supportive of child abuse — was aimed at addressing the increasing violence by Muslims towards Coptic Christians in Egypt and other countries.

The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles issued a statement Wednesday condemning both “the brutal murder of the United States ambassador to Libya and three of the embassy employees” as well as “the latest production of an inflammatory movie about the prophet of Islam”.

“Holistically blaming the Copts for the production of this movie is equivalent to holistically blaming Muslims for the actions of a few fanatics,” the statement read.

Nakoula — who reportedly lives at the residence with his wife and three children — was not at home Thursday amid a media frenzy concentrated on his front porch, where there is a statue of Mary holding a crucified Jesus Christ.

He pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges and reportedly went by a number of different aliases, but denied any connection to the name “Sam Bacile”.

Neighbors like John Crawford said there’s no tolerance for religious intolerance along the quiet cul-de-sac along the 12600 block of Park Street.

“It’s very startling to see that someone puts out a piece of material that is intentionally inflammatory,” said Crawford, who noted there were “quite a few Middle Eastern people that live in this area”.

Crawford also downplayed any threat of demonstrations or terrorist attacks in the wake of U.S. embassy attacks that left Ambassador Chris Stevens, Air Force veteran Sean Smith, former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, and one other unidentified American dead.

“This area’s very well-policed, Cerritos Sheriff has strong control in this area,” he said. “I would not feel that we would have to be concerned about that.”

Officials in Duarte, meanwhile, insisted that “Innocence of Muslims” was not filmed at a studio in that city, although the company believed to be responsible for the film, Media for Christ, has had a business license in Duarte since 2006.

City officials said the film permit for the project indicates the filming was done at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita.

Duarte officials said sheriff’s deputies would be conducting “periodic patrol checks” of the company’s offices and surrounding areas over the next few days.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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