Hizballah Protests Anti-Islam Video, U.S. Free-Speech 'Pretext'
September 17, 2012
Supporters of the Shi'ite militant group Hizballah planned to protest in Beirut on September 17 against an Internet video insulting to Islam.
The gathering follows an appeal to take such action by the leader of Hizballah in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Nasrallah accused Washington, which denies any involvement with the low-budget film, of using the pretext of freedom of speech to justify the continued availability of the film online.
U.S. officials have condemned the film but noted that offensive speech is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The cast of the film, "Innocence of Muslims," has issued a letter saying their work was misrepresented by the filmmaker, who is thought to be a Coptic Christian of Egyptian descent with a criminal record who lives in California.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told Reuters he had called Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby to ask him to organize an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the film.
Days of anti-American violence provoked by the amateurish video have put Western embassies across the Muslim world on high alert.
Months after it was posted on the web, an extended trailer for the film was said to have been dubbed into Arabic by an Egyptian cleric and railed against in early September.
The September 11 storming of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, took place against a backdrop of protest against the film.
At least four other people have died in connection with protests in more than 20 countries over the trailer, which depicts Muhammad as a lecherous cheat.
U.S. authorities have questioned the purported filmmaker over whether he might have violated the conditions of his punishment for a financial scam by using the Internet to post or otherwise propagate the film.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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