Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for a week of protests against a video mocking Prophet Muhammad that has triggered uproar in the Muslim world and which he called “the worst attack ever on Islam”.
“The whole world needs to see your anger on your faces, in your fists and your shouts,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Sunday.
The head of the powerful Lebanese Shia Muslim organisation spoke just hours after Pope Benedict XVI left the country 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,” Nasrallah said.
The low-budget film, titled “Innocence of Muslims”, has sparked fury among Muslims from London to Nairobi for mocking Prophet Muhammad and for portraying Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
Week of protests
Nasrallah told followers to stagger their protests around the country. He 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 Shia 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 Quran 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,” the Hezbollah chief said.
He also blamed the United States for the film.
“The film was made and spread from the US,” Nasrallah said. “Muslims should say to the US: ‘This happened in your state’.”
The US government on Thursday imposed new sanctions on Nasrallah and two other figures in the Shia group over their support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The treasury department sanctions add 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.