Beirut (AsiaNews) - A few hours after the
conclusion of Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon,
in a televised address the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, announced seven
days of protests against a blasphemous film about Muhammad and against the United States,
where it was produced.
Nasrallah pointed out that he intentionally waited for the departure of Benedict XVI before launching the initiative. " Those who should be held accountable, punished, prosecuted and boycotted are those directly responsible for this film and those who stand behind them and those who support and protect them, primarily the United States of America". He said that Arab and Islamic governments should press for an enforceable international law banning insults to Islam and other religions."
Nasrallah also asked Muslim Arab countries to press for an international law prohibiting insults to Islam and other religions.
The protests will be held this afternoon in Beirut, in the southern suburbs, where Hezbollah has a very strong following, on Wednesday in Tyre, Baalbek Friday and Saturday in Bint Jbeil, Sunday in Hermel and eastern Bekaa.
He also asked Muslims around the 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."
Just a few days ago, the United States launched some sanctions against the Hezbollah leader Nasrallah and two others for their support for Bashar al-Assad. Since 2001, the U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.
In Lebanon, in these days of the Pope's visit there were no demonstrations against the film except in northern Lebanon, in Tripoli, where the population is predominantly Sunni.
But the protests against the blasphemous film are spreading in much of the Islamic world, supported mostly by fundamentalist Muslims. This morning, about 1,000 people demonstrated in Kabul (Afghanistan). Yesterday a rally in Karachi (Pakistan) ended with clashes between police and demonstrators, with one dead.
Most governments in the Islamic world, while condemning the film, however, are distancing themselves from the violence and protests that followed, most notably Libya, where on the night of September 11, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked and Ambassador Chris Stevens and three staff members killed.
Yesterday, on a US television broadcast, president of Libya's interim assembly Magarief Mohammed said that his government has arrested 50 people connected to the consulate attack. Magarief said some of those arrested are not Libyans, and are linked to al-Qaida, from Mali and Algeria. He called the others who were arrested "sympathizers of al Qaeda."
But Libyan interior minister Fawzi Abdel A'al has said that only four people were arrested, while the other - about 50 - have only been detained for questioning.
According Magarief, the attack on the consulate was planned some months before by "foreigners" who used protests against the blasphemous film to attack the target.
In contrast, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, said yesterday that the government's preliminary information indicates that the attack on the consulate was not planned.