The Associated Press
CAIRO -- Egypt's general prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.
The case is largely symbolic. The seven men and one woman are believed to be outside Egypt and unlikely to go there to face the charges. Instead, the prosecutor's decision to take legal action appears aimed at absorbing at least some of the public anger over the amateur film, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.
Among those charged is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt living in Southern California and believed to be behind the film. Also among those charged are Florida-based pastor Terry Jones, who has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the video, and Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the United States who pushed the video on his website.
The connection to the film of the other five accused was not immediately clear. Most of them live in the United States.
"We are not going to respond to Egypt. We do not take that particular threat very seriously," Jones said.
Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa called for attacks on U.S. diplomats and an escalation of protests against the anti-Islam film. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb praised the killing in Benghazi, Libya, last week of four Americans including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens. They urged Muslims to pull down and burn American flags at embassies, and kill or expel American diplomats to "purge our land of their filth in revenge for the honor of the Prophet."
In a statement, the group condemned the United States for "lying to Muslims for more than 10 years, saying its war was against terrorism and not Islam," and threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania.