YouTube Video Sparks Riots In Benghazi, Libya, Leads To U.S. Embassy Workers' Deaths

A trailer for a film that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a philanderer is said to be the cause of the violent riots in Libya that claimed the lives of four embassy workers. J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, was at his country's consulate in the city of Benghazi when it was stormed by protesters firing guns and RPGs.

The film's producer, a real estate developer named Sam Bacile, has gone into hiding from his home in California. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, he said he regarded Islam as a "cancer" and that his film was to be seen as a political statement.

Although uploaded to YouTube two months ago, the original version of the trailer has had only about 20,000 views. Bacile, however, says he has no idea who dubbed a version of the film into Egyptian Arabic. Following its showing on Egyptian TV, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was also breached, its flag, flying at half mast to commemorate the 9/11 attacks, torn down.

Fast Company contacted YouTube for comment, and to find out whether it would be taking Bacile's video down. "While we don't comment on individual videos," a spokesperson wrote in an email, "what I can tell you is that on YouTube, people worldwide can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and legal manner, and this sometimes raises cultural and political issues. We have created Community Guidelines to set a global standard for our users. We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed. Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site."

Add New Comment

31 Comments

  • DannyG

    How have you not taken this giant piece of "journalistic" bullshit down? Benghazi had nothing to do with a youtube video. You could at least update it with a correction.

  • Mary Ofstead

    Sam Bacile needs to apologize. He's being judgemental. He's not used to being told that he's wrong. has a form of Entitlement. I think he spoke from the hip without doing research. And if the Islam Faith is bringing up concern, then he should Honor that Concern. I think he needed to be Specific about who the men are that are hurting women in the Islamic Faith. The Islam's that killed were being immature. Protesting is fine, but they took it too far. Yelling in Protest to get the message out is Good. But,  killing was wrong, that goes against the living Islam, you gonna kill Islams, you ain't going to have any left. 

  • Mary Ofstead

    Islam would never support killing innocent people. ... The real Islam is sanctified against violence. ... They do not kill because they break the laws of Islam but because they think this is what a true Muslim should do.

    I don't see this as evil, I see it as a reason to dominate and take away rights. Evil to me means to kill. Taking away rights of any human - women are human, is wrong.

    This is what I read on the internet:
    Muslim women do not inherit property in equal portion to males. .... of the faith, and believe in Muhammad's mandate to spread Islamic rule by

  • Odvious

    This was crazy to do this film.  Why on earth would you ever make a movie that will insult a whole religion?  It doesn't matter if your opinion of Muslims is that they are "Evil" as one of our other obviously well informed posters thinks he is, or gorgeous and poetic.  When it comes down to it, it is another's system of belief, and should be respected as much as we would want our own to be.  You don't have to understand it or like it.  Simply respect it.
    As far as youtube pulling the video in Arab countries, is simply cowardice.  Either you do or you don't.  Don't be selective now, especially after the damage has been done.

  • Common sense

     Hello.  Anyone seen the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.  The entire musical insults a whole religion.  It is profane, irreverant, and disrespectful.  I agree it is crazy to make that musical, yet I respect the right of the creators to do so; and I don't recall any Mormon mobs killing anyone over it.

  • Odomk

    I hope You Tube and the maker of the videos enjoy there profits.  It came at the expense of the American and good American lives.  Who ever made the video and the YouTube management knew that it would create  a response.  With all the Koran burning  and  the killing of people over past incidents it could be expected what would happen.

    We have free speach but you can't yell fire either.   The muslims may be crazy but the people who posted the video and the You Tube management that allowed to stay up should be ashamed. They they did this to make money and the money is now covered in blood of innocent Americans.

    If I were the person that made the video I would find a hole and crawl into.  The radical muslims might come looking for him and he might then decide that it was not very smart to poke at the angry animal with a stick. 

  • Brownblur825

    This video has already caused imminent danger to Americans and should be brought down. Period. It's like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater. Your rights for free speech is automatically forfeit and your ass goes to jail for wreck less endangerment. Worse if you jokingly threaten a govt official.

  • Exhausted_Spark

    I cannot believe how easy it is for the sheep to start bawling for speach control.

  • Anita bay

    First, the attach occurred late on 9/11
    Second, these people were armed with assault rifles and RPGs
    Third, we're being told thousands of people in Libya(!) were incited to violence by an American video that very few Americans had ever heard of, much less seen?!
    Sorry, something's not adding up right.

  • Jane Dough

    Anyone who buys into the FALSE NARRATIVE that a stupid video triggered this attack, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS! The terrorists do that to try and garner sympathy. They attacked the embassy and consulate because we have a WEAK president and are not afraid to attack us. 

  • Eloghod1st

    As a Christian and an African-Canadian, it beats my imagination how the likes of Jane reason. I respect freedom of speech and I applaud those who fought for it. However, this goes to show how hypocritical we are in North America. Freedom of speech allows us to insult others religious beliefs especially when they are of African and Mid-East descent, but the same freedom of speech does not permit us to talk of Gays and Lesbians otherwise you are homophobic. Same freedom does not allow me practice my Christianity without offending my next door neighbor. Same freedom we all clamor for bars me from hearing "The Good News" in schools. It stops being freedom of speech or whatever form of freedom if I get my freedom at someone's else freedom. We should learn to respect others no matter their creed, race or believe and avoid inciting and inflammatory statements. We know naturally there are fools, and there are those unscrupulous to exploit them. Don't make films/movies that will deliberately offend the Muslims, Christians, Jews in the name of freedom of speech

  • Jeff

    Voltaire said I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. I need more Voltaires.

    There is a massive difference between "someone might get mad, you SHOULD NOT say it" and "someone might get mad, you CAN NOT say it." Everyone has the right to offend anyone else as much as they please. Such things should be legal. This does not make them ethical or morally right.

    I would like to think, also, that those who are offended should be able to come up with a better response than "you insulted me, I'm going to kill those who are like you."

  • Marcelo Carvalho Pinto

    To me, both sides are to blame. No question that violent reaction isn't acceptable. But the video has shown prejudice against religion, labeling Muslims as cancer. How does that differ from labeling African Americans as inferior, or Latins as lazy (both of which aren't generally accepted)? The right to free speech ends where your duty to be respectful of creed (and color, race, gender, sexual orientation) starts.

  • David

    "The right to free speech ends where your duty to be respectful...starts."

    Marcelo, we may not like what he said, at least I don't. And I certainly think that he bears some moral responsibility for inciting and stirring up violence. But as far as legal policy goes, a right to free speech that only extends as far as other people's hurt feelings is no right at all.

  • Brian Leahy

    If there was ever a slippery slope, this is it: if we start censoring ourselves to protect the feelings of some religious group, soon they will all demand it. The right to religious freedom cannot be construed to include the right to resort to violence against your critics.

  • Mary Ofstead

    I think what Sam shoiuld have done on this video is shown the Disparity between a guy who knows how to surf on the ocean, or a guy that knows how to play in a band, or a guy that knows how to throw a football with smiles on their faces versus these Men who try to Excert their dominance with Anger (immaturity).

    Talking sternly to stand up for someone is not Anger. Standing up for someone as an advocate with a stern voice is not considered Anger. Angery Men are not considerate people.

    Where in the Quran does it say to kill anyone for anything?

  • Mary Ofstead

    I think you should not be allowed to Put People down. If I believe Muhammed is God, then I should be allowed to Believe that. If I'm an Islamic Religious person and I  pray in Islam, then that should be allowed. Islamic people should be able to tell us Why they Don't like Jesus. That should be allowed. Don't call people  Stupid just because you like cynicism. You know Jesus never became a Father. Jesus never had Children, so Not everyone out there fully believes in Jesus. As long as people are Doing Good, not deaming women just because a Human wrote those words, then I think that is ok. I don't think God/Muhamamad meant for the write to be able to Read or speak what you read in a fairytale or a science book away from Anyone. I don't believe any Man should be subserviant to a Woman and I don't believe any Woman should be Subserviant or disallowed to read anything that a man can read that's called discriminate.