Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made a rare public appearance on Monday to address tens of thousands of supporters who took to the streets of southern Beirut to denounce a film mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
“O Prophet, we die for you, my soul and my blood are for you,” the leader of the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement said, urging the crowd to repeat the words after him for the whole world to hear.
Nasrallah has called for a week of protests across the country over the low-budget, American-made film, describing it as the “worst attack ever on Islam.”
“America must understand... the U.S. must understand that releasing the entire film will have dangerous, very dangerous, repercussions around the world,” he told Monday’s rally.
“All our people and governments must put pressure on the international community to issue international and national laws to criminalize insults of the three world religions,” he said, referring to Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
“The world does not understand the breadth of the humiliation,” he said. “The world must understand the depth of our bond with our prophet.”
Supporters of the Shiite leader were delirious when he made his surprise appearance, which lasted about 15 minutes.
It was his fifth public appearance in six years, and the first time he made a full speech in person to thousands of his supporters since 2008. Nasrallah has been in hiding since 2006, when Hezbollah and Israel fought a bloody 33-day war.
“America, great Satan! Israel, enemy of the Muslims!” cried men, women and children in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the main Hezbollah stronghold where the majority of residents are Shiite Muslim.
“America, be warned, do not touch our religion!” yelled the protesters, many of whom carried yellow and green Hezbollah flags, while others waved the flag of Amal, another Shiite movement.
“America, the mother of terrorism,” they cried, waving their fists in the air. “We sacrifice ourselves for you, O Mohammed!”