By Sam Ghattas, Beirut THE leader of Hezbollah yesterday hit back at the US over claims Syria and Iran had fuelled protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Meanwhile, it emerged that an Egyptian newspaper had reprinted the cartoons in news story back in October without any apparent problems. Egyptian bloggers reproduced pages from the October 17 edition of Al Fagr, which had printed the cartoons in an article about the controversial images. The article had a headline which one blogger translated as “Continued Boldness. Mocking the Prophet and his Wife by Caricature.” Denmark, meanwhile, said it had temporarily closed its diplomatic mission in Beirut, which was burned by protesters on Sunday, and all staff had left Lebanon. The Danes also feared religious processions in Muslim countries to mark the Shi’ite festival of Ashoura would spill over into violence against its diplomats and soldiers after days of protests over the caricatures, which were first published in a Danish newspaper in September. About 2,000 hard-liners rallied and burned a Danish flag in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka yesterday. In Beirut, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah urged Muslims worldwide to keep demonstrating until there is an apology over the drawings and Europe passes laws forbidding insults to the prophet. The head of the guerrilla group, which is backed by Iran and Syria, spoke before a mass Ashoura procession. Whipping up the crowds on the most solemn day for Shi’ites worldwide, Mr Nasrallah declared: “Defending the prophet should continue all over the world. Let Condoleezza Rice and Bush and all the tyrants shut up. We are an Islamic nation that cannot tolerate, be silent or be lax when they insult our prophet and sanctities. “We will uphold the messenger of God not only by our voices but also by our blood,” he told the crowds, estimated by organisers at about 700,000. Police had no final estimates but said the figure was likely to be even higher. Speaking about the controversy on Wednesday, US President George Bush condemned the deadly rioting sparked by the cartoons and urged foreign leaders to halt the spreading violence. Secretary of State Ms Rice said Iran and Syria “have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it.” Iran has rejected the US accusations. Syria has not commented publicly.

Social Share Toolbar

Sources