Criminalise defamation of religions: Hizbollah chief

As protests against the incendiary film against Islam and Prophet Mohammad swirl around large parts of the globe, the head of the Lebanese Hizbollah has called for criminalising defamation of religions under international law.

“There should be resolutions adopted in top international institutions, which are binding on all states and governments in the world, to forbid the defamation of religions,” said Hassan Nasrallah in a major televised speech on Sunday.

The Hizbollah chief’s speech seemed intended to provide a focus to surging protests in several countries after a trailer of the controversial film, made in the United States, surfaced on the internet.

‘Double standards’

Mr. Nasrallah said western governments punished people with heavy fines and even jail terms for questioning the Holocaust or the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, but were disinclined to pursue a similar course over the current controversy. “Don’t the Muslims — followers of this great religion — deserve to have the same level of presence and a similar law to be issued in their favour?” he asked.

Mr. Nasrallah called upon the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to hold an extraordinary meeting on the issue. He also demanded an Arab League session that would discuss the future course of action, in response to the film.

The Hizbollah chief called upon the U.S. to hold accountable the makers of the two-hour video, whose screening, he said, should not be allowed.

There has been no let-up in the protests around U.S. diplomatic missions. In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, hundreds of protesters targeted the police with stones and petrol bombs. The American flag was also torched amid anti-U.S. sloganeering. Heavy protests have also rocked parts of Philippines, Pakistan and Yemen.

A demonstration in Benghazi last week ended up in a strike on the U.S. Consulate which led to the killing of the ambassador John Christopher Stevens.

Mr. Nasrallah described the film 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.”

Consequently, he has called for sustained protests that would show the world that “the Prophet has followers who will not be silent in the face of humiliation”.

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