Hezbollah calls for week of Lebanon demos over film
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Protesters chant slogans during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh near Sidon, Lebanon. AP PhotoHezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah yesterday called for a week of angry protests across Lebanon over a US-produced film mocking Islam that triggered uproar in the Muslim world.
"The whole world needs to see your anger on your faces, in your fists and your shouts," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
The head of the powerful Shiite Muslim organisation spoke just hours after Pope Benedict XVI left Lebanon following a historic three-day visit in which he prayed that Middle East leaders would work towards peace and reconciliation.
Nasrallah noted that he purposely postponed his call for protests until after the pope's departure.
"The whole world should know that the Prophet has followers who will not be silent in the face of humiliation," said Nasrallah.
A low-budget movie, entitled "Innocence of Muslims", has sparked fury across the Islamic world for mocking the Prophet Mohammed, and for portraying Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
Nasrallah called for protests in southern Beirut on Monday, in the southern city of Tyre on Wednesday, in the eastern city of Baalbek on Friday, in Bint Jbeil in south Lebanon on Saturday, and in Hermel in the eastern Bekaa valley region on Sunday. All are majority Shiite areas.
He also called for people across the Islamic world to demonstrate against the film, which he described as "the worst attack ever on Islam, worse than the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, the burning of the Koran in Afghanistan and the cartoons in the European media." "There should be resolutions adopted in top international institutions, that are binding on all states and governments in the world, to forbid the defamation of religions," said Nasrallah, adding attacks on Muslims were "frequent".
"Those who write or draw or make such a film would know that they would be punished wherever they are, and they would not feel protected," said the Hezbollah chief.
He also blamed the United States for the film. "The film was made and spread from the US," said Nasrallah. "Muslims should say to the US: 'This happened in your state.'" The United States on Thursday imposed new sanctions on Nasrallah and two other figures in the Shiite militia over their support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The US Treasury move adds to measures already levied on Hezbollah, which was first designated by Washington as a terrorist group in 2001.
In his speech, Nasrallah said Lebanon should call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss the anti-Islam film.
And shortly after his address ended, Lebanon's foreign ministry said in a statement that Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had requested such a meeting of the 22-member bloc.