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One of the men responsible for sparking the recent violent protests throughout the Middle East, in regard to a film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, is from Fairfax County.

Morris Sadek of Chantilly is an Egyptian Christian who belongs to a sect of Christianity called the Coptic Orthodox Church.

On his website, www.nationalamericancopticassembly, Sadek says he was counsel for Middle East Affairs, Advocates International in Fairfax from 1999 to 2000, which promoted professional ethics, conflict resolution and human rights in Egypt.

Sadek said he translated the controversial film, “Innocence of Muslims,” into Arabic and then sent it to Egyptian media sources.

According to The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church is based on the teachings of St. Mark, who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of Roman emperor Nero in the first century. The church split from traditional Christianity in the fifth century in regard to Jesus Christ’s divinity, and today the religion is practiced by about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million-plus residents.

Sadek was unable to be reached for comment, but told news organization Reuters that he wanted people to react to an early part of the film, which depicts an angry mob of Islamists attacking a Christian clinic while Egyptian police allegedly do nothing to stop them.

“I am only [leading] a Coptic organization that promoted the film. I am only interested in the first part about persecution of Copts,” Sadek told Reuters.

But The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church has released a statement condemning both the film and its message.

“[The film's] release at this specific time is part of a malicious campaign targeting defamation of religions, aiming to divide the people, most notably the Egyptian people," the statement said. "The defamation of religion, its symbols and teachings is incompatible with Christian values, the teaching of Jesus Christ and the apostles as is demonstrated in the Bible … so those who participate in such a production, display or promotion of such a film should be held fully accountable for operating outside of Christian principles and church laws."

St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church on Braddock Road in Fairfax said Sadek might have attended there, but it does not keep records of regular attendance.

“We do not keep track of visitors,” said the church’s communications director, Ihab Marcus. “We are one of the largest Coptic churches in the country and have thousands of visitors per year. He may have been one of them, but in terms of regular attendance, I don’t have a clue.”

Another D.C.-based Coptic organization, Coptic Solidarity, called Sadek an inflammatory maverick.

"Mr. Sadek is a maverick who belongs to a very narrow, extreme current of Coptic activists," the group said in a statement. "He likes to use inflammatory and abrasive language to insult Muslims and Islam. As his actions agitate more the Islamic extremists, some people wonder if he is not in fact working to fulfill their agenda."

Sadek told Reuters he is sorry for any deaths that have resulted from the Middle East protests.

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com