Beirut: The leader of Hezbollah made a rare public appearance Monday at a rally in Beirut, calling for sustained protests against a film deemed offensive to Islam that already has provoked a week of unrest in Muslim countries worldwide.
Protesters are furious over the anti-Muslim movie named “Innocence of Muslims” made in US that depicts Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer, and hence is acting as a catalyst to provoke widespread and violent anti-US protests on US embassies across the world.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has rarely been seen in public since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a month-long war in 2006, fearing Israeli assassination. Since then, he has communicated with his followers and gives news conference mostly via satellite link.
Today, Nasrallah spoke for about 15 minutes before tens of thousands of cheering supporters, many of them with green and yellow headbands around their foreheads, the colours of Hezbollah.
Nasrallah last appeared in public in December 2011 to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashoura. But he spoke only briefly and did not give a full speech.
He has called for a series of demonstrations this week to denounce the video.
Seeking to foment the anger in Muslims, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said that the US must be held accountable for the film, which was produced in the United States.
Speaking in a televised speech, Nasrallah said, “The ones who should be held accountable and boycotted are those who support and protect the producers, namely the US administration”.
The leader of the Hezbollah militant group called for protests against the movie, saying protesters should not only ‘express our anger’ at US embassies but urge leaders to act.
He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We should not only express our anger at an American embassy here or there. We should tell our rulers in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ‘your responsibility in the first place’ and since you officially represent the governments and states of the Muslim world you should impose on the United States, Europe and the whole world that our prophet, our Quran and our holy places and honor of our Prophet be respected,” he told his followers.
Hezbollah’s threat comes a day after al Qaeda`s most active branch in the Middle East warned of more attacks on US embassies to "set the fires blazing."
Meanwhile the anti-US protests over the movie mocking prophet Muhammed spread to Pakistan yesterday with one person being killed and several injured in attack on the US Consulate in Pakistan’s Karachi.
Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam film broke through a barricade near the US Consulate in the southern city of Karachi, sparking clashes with police in which one demonstrator was killed.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters in Karachi after they broke through the barricade and reached the outer wall of the US.Consulate, police officer Mohammad Ranjha said.
The protesters threw stones and bricks, prompting the police to beat back the crowd with their batons. The police and private security guards outside the consulate also fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
The head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head, addressed the crowd and demanded the Pakistani government shut down the US Embassy and all consulates in the country until the filmmakers are punished.
(With PTI Inputs)