Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has called for weeklong protests in Lebanon against the controversial anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims. The senior leader called the film “the worst attack ever on Islam,” in an appearance on Al-Manar TV.
“This assault is even worse than the 1969 burning of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, and worse is remaining silent over such an assault against the prophet of God,” Nasrallah said in his appearance according to the party’s website. He claimed the film constituted a war against Islam that surpassed the gravity of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Quran-burning in Afghanistan, and cartoons portraying the prophet in European media.
“The film… constitutes an unprecedented sacrilege to the Prophet Muhammad… his chaste progeny, and to Islam as a religion,” Nasrallah said. “Those who stand behind such offences are Zionists, yet these are being attributed to Muslim or Christian apostates, such as the Christian pastor Terry Jones who has burned the Holy Quran, or the Coptic priest who is said to be behind the anti-Islam film.” The priest mentioned by Nasrallah is Zakaria Botros, a priest cited as the ideological inspiration for the film and expelled by the Coptic Church years ago.
Nasrallah blamed the film for attempting to bring sectarian strife to the region saying, “this immoral action represents the highest degree of aggression against the sublime human right of respecting belief, sanctities and feelings.”
He called on an international resolution that would criminalise attacks against monotheistic religions and protect prophets including Moses, Abraham, Muhammad and Jesus.
Nasrallah called for protests in southern Beirut, Tyre, the eastern city of Baalbek, the southern hub of Bint Jbeil and Hermel. All the cities and areas mentioned by Nasrallah in his calls for protests have Shi’a majority populations.
He also highlighted that he waited three days before issuing his address out of respect for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the country.
In a statement condemning the film last Wednesday, Hezbollah called on the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organisation to lobby for international laws criminalising offences to Islam and accused the United Nations and United States of disregarding the feelings of Muslims, while imposing stringent measures against anti-Semitism. “Such actions are a reflection of prepared policies rather than individual ones,” the statement read. “It further shows the real position of the US-Zionist alliance in regard to Islam and Muslims.”
Last Friday demonstrators in the northern coastal city of Tripoli torched KFC and Hardees restaurants in clashes with police that left one dead and 25 injured.