Via Joseph Wouk’s Warsclerotic
As 500,000 supporters in Beirut shout ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to the Great Satan America,’ Hezbollah leader urges week of protests over anti-Islam movie
BEIRUT — The leader of Hezbollah made a rare public appearance Monday at a rally in Beirut, calling for sustained protests against an anti-Islam film that already has provoked a week of unrest in Muslim countries worldwide.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has rarely been seen in public since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a month-long war in 2006, fearing Israeli assassination. Since then, he has communicated with his followers and gives news conferences mostly via satellite link.
On Monday, Nasrallah spoke for about 15 minutes before tens of thousands of cheering supporters, many of them with green and yellow headbands around their foreheads — the colors of Hezbollah — and the words “at your service God’s prophet” written on them.
Police officials estimated the crowd at around 500,000 — an exceptionally large turnout even by standards of the Hezbollah group whose rallies normally draw huge numbers.
Diplomats at the US Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution and sent local Lebanese employees home early amid the anti-American protests.
In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security procedures, said the decision to “reduce classified holdings” was routine and made by embassy staff.
Nasrallah, who last appeared in public in December 2011 to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, said the US must ban the movie and have it removed from the Internet and called for his followers to maintain pressure on the world to act.
“This is the start of a serious movement that must continue all over the Muslim world in defense of the prophet of God,” Nasrallah said to roars of support. “As long as there’s blood in us, we will not remain silent over insults against our prophet.”
The crowd chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to the Great Satan America,” reported Israel Radio. Read more…
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