Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah calls on France to back down over Muhammad cartoons
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The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah on Friday described French cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as an aggression and likened Paris sticking by them to “declaring a sort of war.”
In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said by being stubborn, French authorities had worsened a standoff over the caricatures, which stirred anger among Muslims.
“French authorities instead, of fixing the issue… became stubborn about this being freedom of expression [saying] ‘we want to continue with satirical cartoons,'” Nasrallah said, warning France: “You need to think about correcting this mistake,” according to al-Arabiya.
Urging France to “be fair and just,” he argued: “No Muslim in the world will accept our dignity… the dignity of our Prophet, being insulted.”
Nasrallah’s speech came in response to Thursday’s knife attack in a church in Nice, in which a Tunisian man, carrying a copy of the Koran, killed three people. Eyewitnesses say he also shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he carried out the attack.
Nasrallah used his speech to distance Thursday’s attack in Nice from Islam, saying:
“This event is rejected by Islam… which forbids the killing of innocents. Even if the perpetrator was a Muslim, no one should hold Islam accountable for this crime.”
The Nice attack was the third in under two months that the French authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, and came less than two weeks after the beheading of Samuel Paty, a French middle-school teacher, in a Paris suburb. Paty had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
In response, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said that Islamic separatism threatens the secular values of the French Republic, as he denounced Islamism as an “ideology which claims that its own laws should be superior to those of the republic.”
Nasrallah urged France to back down, saying: “The French authorities have dragged themselves and the whole of France – they want to drag all of Europe – into a battle with Islam and Muslims for flimsy and sometimes unknown reasons.”
And he called on French leaders to instead adopt the Muslim world’s point of view. “Do not allow this mockery, this aggression… to continue, and the whole world will stand with you,” he said.