HERMEL, Lebanon: Thousands of Hezbollah supporters turned out in Hermel Sunday to take part in the last in a series of protests against an anti-Islam film that was produced in the U.S. “Death to America,” “Israel, enemy of Muslims,” chanted some in the crowd who waved the group’s yellow flags. Many Amal Movement flags could also be seen.
The Hermel protest was the fifth in a series of demonstrations called by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, who made a rare public appearance at a rally against the film in Beirut’s southern suburbs last week and urged supporters to vent their fury over the film.
Hezbollah has held protests against the trailer for the movie “Innocence of Muslims” and cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by a French satirical magazine across Lebanon – all have been peaceful.
But protests in the northern city of Tripoli on Sept. 14 led to clashes with security forces. Two American fast food restaurants occupying the same building were set on fire, with one demonstrator killed.
Thousands also protested in the southern town of Bint Jbeil Saturday.
“This film that insults the Prophet is not merely a trivial creation carried out by a group, but American politics intended to be disseminated to the Western world,” Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Moussawi told the crowd.
Moussawi ruled out a backlash against Christians in Lebanon, saying: “We participated with our Christian brothers wholeheartedly in the mass given by Pope Benedict XVI.”
Several participants held posters of Nasrallah alongside pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Some attacked Sidon-based Sheikh Ahmad Assir, who held his own protest against the film in Beirut last Friday and has gained attention over the past year for his stances against Damascus and Hezbollah’s arms.
“This sheikh who instructs Muslims on the right path, what did he do for the south and for Lebanon? Did he say a word condemning the Israeli attacks?” asked demonstrator Mohammad Ali Bazzi.
“His every move was to disarm the resistance, which is Israel’s first demand,” he said.
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya held its own event in Sidon Saturday to condemn both the film and cartoon, with official Bassam Hammoud holding “global Zionism” and “corrupt administrations in the U.S., France and many European countries” responsible for the insults against the Prophet Mohammad.
Defending “the right of Muslims to be angry for their Prophet,” Hammoud called for an exertion of “pressure to criminalize offenses against monotheistic religions and their prophets.”
Hammoud also spoke out in favor of the Syrian revolution, saying “the killing, destruction and violation of sacred places in Syria are no less harmful than the film which insulted the Prophet.”