Hezbollah's leader calls for new protests Monday
Nasrallah complains the United States has "done nothing" to stop the film
He calls U.S. guarantees of freedom of expression "a well-known excuse"
The leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah called for new protests Monday over an anti-Islamic film that sparked violent anti-American demonstrations across the Middle East last week.
Speaking on Hezbollah’s al-Manar television service Sunday night, Hassan Nasrallah said the movie – excerpts of which have been posted online – “represents a dangerous turn in the war against Islam and the great prophet, peace be upon him.”
“We must stress that should be awareness among Muslims and Christians not to let any strife take place in any country or any place in the world,” Nasrallah said. “The people who should be accountable, and brought to justice as well as punished and boycotted, are those directly responsible for the film and those who support them and protect them. And it is the United States of America that is at the forefront of those.”
A 14-minute trailer for the movie mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer. The movie was privately produced by a man federal officials identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a California man on probation for bank fraud, and authorities have said they are reviewing whether he violated the terms of his release.
The trailer has provoked riots, demonstrations and attacks across the region that have left numerous dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
In Lebanon, demonstrators in the northern city of Tripoli attacked and burned down a KFC restaurant on Friday, leaving one dead and 25 others wounded in clashes between police and protesters.
Other protests continued into Sunday, when Pakistani police armed with batons and water cannon pushed demonstrators back from the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that the United States stands for religious freedom and rejects “the denigration of any religion, including Islam.” But he added, “There is no excuse for attacks on our embassies and consulates.”
Nasrallah said Muslims have asked the U.S. government to suppress the film, “but the U.S. administration has done nothing.”
“Their well-known excuse is the issue of freedom – freedom of expression, American values and the like,” he said. He said there should be “an international decision enforced by international organizations” to prosecute people who insult the prophets of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.