Middle East burns as Hezbollah delivers US a fiery warning


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The Independent Online

The leader of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah has made a rare public appearance in Beirut at a protest against an anti-Islam film that has sparked violent reactions across the Muslim world.

Sheikh Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah addressed thousands of supporters in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, as demonstrations over a low-budget trailer for a film that mocks the Islam's Prophet Mohamed continued in several countries yesterday. "The US should know that broadcasting the full version of the movie will have very, very, very dangerous repercussions worldwide," said Nasrallah, who rarely appears in public for fear of assassination at the hands of Israel, with whom Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006. The influential leader had called for week-long protests across Lebanon in a televised broadcast on Sunday.

Little is known about the origin of the film at the centre of the protests, which is entitled Innocence of Muslims and portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womaniser and a paedophile. Authorities in the US, where it was produced, believe it was made by a convicted fraudster named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Anger over the film has shown little sign of dissipating a week on. The US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was among those killed in demonstrations. In anticipation of further violence, the US evacuated all non-essential staff and families from Sudan and Tunisia. Elsewhere, protesters burned cars and fired on police at a demonstration outside a US military base in Kabul. Around 800 protesters threw rocks at Camp Phoenix, while many shouted "Death to America!".

In Pakistan, protesters burned a government building in the northwestern town of Wari, during clashes that left one demonstrator dead and several others wounded. The country's Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, meanwhile, ordered a ban on the YouTube website after it was reported to have failed to take down video that triggered the protests.

Protests were also held at the US embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia – the world's most populous Muslim nation. Eleven police officers were injured when protesters hurled rocks and tossed firebombs at the embassy.