Mark Bassely Yousef, the California producer behind the infamously provocative and poorly shot Innocence of Muslims, will spend a year behind bars. According to ABC News, he was not convicted of any charges directly related to the film. Instead, Yousef is being imprisoned for probation violations of prior convictions of bank fraud and intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
His current sentence is relatively short due to an agreed upon plea bargain that required Yousef to admit that he used several false names and even obtained a drivers license under a false name, in exchange for the dismissal of other charges related to the film.
After the violence across the globe subsided, Innocence of Muslims seems to have been forgotten. The stories of the violence and protest surrounding the film have faded from the political consciousness of the nation by election day.
Yousef made a statement through his lawyer that warrants discussion. Steven Seiden, his lawyer, said that, “The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn't kill the ideology.” How does one kill an ideology, and has the United States’ war on terror had success in crushing extremist ideology? I would argue that we have not.
The United States' tactics in the war on terror have been largely violent and are perpetuated through continued and increased drone strikes that cause a significant number of civilian causalities. The U.S. needs to reevaluate its counterterrorism strategy and analyze exactly how much fuel it is adding to the extremist fire.
Although the production of the movie is reprehensible, and the violence that followed is equally so, this situation has created opportunity for extensive discourse on freedom of speech, religious tolerance, and the war on terror.
It's high time that we engage in this discussion openly and frankly. Now that election season is over, there is no excuse not to.
See the Innocence of Muslims trailer below and tell us your thoughts: