Muslim and Coptic Orthodox Church leaders stood together Monday to condemn anti-American violence that has broken out in several countries following the release of an anti-Muslim film allegedly made in Southern California.

In a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, they also said the creators of the "Innocence of Muslims" need not fear retribution from them. The movie, a trailer of which was posted on YouTube, is considered blasphemous by Muslims because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad.

Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, called the movie "hate speech" and "instigation," but added, "We don't go after people for what they say."

"If he's hiding from us, he's wrong," Hathout added, referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and naturalized U.S. citizen living in Cerritos purported to be one of the makers of the film.

"Hide from somebody else. We are not interested," Hathout said.

The movie has been linked to protests that resulted in the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other State Department employees.

Hathout condemned those behind the violence.

"Those are neither Muslims nor Copts - those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate and minds full of ignorance," he said.

"There should have been no bloodshed," he added.


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"As a matter of fact, there should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production."

Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, said neither should the movie trigger violence against Copts.

"We find there is no justification to do such kind of movie, and there is no justification to retaliate or attack the Coptic community," he said during the news conference.

In a statement, he said, "The actions of a few ignorant individuals do not represent the collective Diaspora Copts, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community."

Both religious leaders said they hope recent events will draw the Muslim and Coptic communities of Los Angeles closer.

christina.villacorte@dailynews.com

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