Los Angeles. A US judge refused on Thursday to order the video sharing website YouTube to take down a trailer for an anti-Islamic film that has triggered protests across the Muslim world.
One of the actresses in the movie, a crude and amateurish portrayal of the life of Mohammed seemingly designed to cause offense, had lodged a complaint, alleging that she was duped into appearing.
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Louis Lavin refused Cindy Lee Garcia’s request for a restraining order to prevent YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, from continuing to show the 14-minute package of clips from the film.
Garcia is one of three actresses in the film to have come forward claiming they were tricked into taking part in the production since the explosion of violence in Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last week.
Her lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, alleges that the movie’s director, identified by the pseudonym Sam Bacile, presented it as an adventure film about ancient Egyptians called “Desert Warrior.”
The English version of the trailer, which has been withdrawn from YouTube in a number of countries, includes blatantly overdubbed parts of dialogue, and Mohammed’s name seems to have been added in post production.
In her suit, Garcia alleges she has suffered severe emotional distress, financial setbacks and the “destruction of her career and reputation.”
The actress’s lawyer Cris Armenta said her life is in danger. “Clearly she was defrauded, clearly she was lied to,” he said.
Speaking before the hearing, Garcia said she hoped the court would take immediate action to ban YouTube from hosting the video trailer, arguing that its continued availability puts her at risk of attack.
“I think, yes, we have a right to free speech, but what they did was wrong,” she said, calling the movie “degrading and demoralizing.”
After the court ruling she told reporters: “I’m not giving up.”
YouTube last week restricted access to the film in Egypt and Libya after unrest in those countries, and has been adding countries to the list. Some others including Pakistan and Sudan, have blocked access themselves.
On Wednesday it extended its restrictions on the video to “countries where it is considered illegal by local authorities; that is, to date, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.”
The US actress also filed a lawsuit against the reported producer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, on grounds of invasion of privacy, fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster — out on parole — lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the film.
US media say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified. He was questioned overnight on Friday by police before going into hiding with his family.
In an interview conducted before it became clear that Sam Bacile was a pseudonym, he falsely claimed he was an American-Israeli and had raised $5 million to make it from about 100 Jewish donors.
He said he had worked with some 60 actors and 45 crew to make the two-hour movie in a three-month period last year in California.
“The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie,” he told the Wall Street Journal, adding: “Islam is a cancer.”