Standing shoulder to shoulder, Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in the United States have raised voices to condemn a film defaming Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and violent protests that tainted the image of Muslims worldwide.
"There should have been no bloodshed," Dr. Maher Hathout, an Egyptian-born physician and senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told a press conference cited by NBC Los Angeles.
“In fact, there should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production.”
Gathering Monday, September 17 at Los Angeles City Hall, Muslim and Christian leaders joined together to condemn the film that triggered violent protests around the world.
"We strongly condemn any and all violent actions and the loss of any innocent lives," Bishop Serapion, an Egyptian-born, said.
Titled “Innocence of Muslims”, the film, produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer, portrays the Prophet (PBUH) as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The film was posted on YouTube in June but drew attention until last week when an Egyptian-American Copt produced a trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and e-mail newsletter publicizing the movie.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet (PBUH), saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet (PBUH).
In response, thousands of Muslims took to the streets worldwide to protest the defamatory movie. At least 10 people were killed in days of protests against the film.
The US ambassador in Libya and three other diplomats were also killed when protestors attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.
"Along with our organization, we mourn the deaths of the US ambassador to Libya and his staff and offer our heartfelt condolences to their families," said Bishop Serapion.
Muslim and Coptic leaders called for dialogue to ease tension resulting from the anti-Prophet (PBUH) film.
"The fact that two men from Egypt -- one Coptic Christian, one Muslim -- came together to speak together in unison speaks wonderfully about America because no religion is repressing another religion in America," Salam Al-Marayati with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told NBC.
“We're all free.”
The man believed to be responsible for the film is a Coptic Christian.
Identified as one of the film makers, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a convicted bank fraudster, went into hiding after he was questioned by his federal parole officer at a sheriff’s station.
Muslims leaders said the violent protests do not represent the majority of Muslims, whose faith teaches forgiveness.
"When an ignorant person targets you, say peace and leave," Hathout said.
"These are the teachers that will be more honoring, if you follow, to the name of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) rather than getting into a frenzy."
While condemning the provocative film, Muslim leaders around the world have denounced attacks on foreign diplomatic missions, calling for a measured response to the movie.
Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh said Saturday that attacks on foreign embassies over the film run counter to the peaceful teachings of Islam.
"Such acts damage the Muslim religion, are not permitted by God and are incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH),” he said.