Hezbollah leader: terrorist groups threaten Islam
"The behavior of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies," Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah said. (AFP/File)
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Extremist religious groups following a "takfiri" ideology have offended the Prophet Mohammad more than the Western cartoons mocking him, Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah said Friday.
"The behavior of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies ... who insulted the prophet in films... or drew cartoons of the prophet," Nasrallah said in a televised speech in an event marking the prophet's birthday.
The remarks came two days after an Islamist attack on a French satirical magazine that had printed cartoons mocking the prophet.
Twelve people were killed in the attack, suspected to have been committed by jihadi-linked gunmen.
“Takfiris are the biggest threat to Islam, as a religion, [and] as a message,” Nasrallah said.
On the political situation in Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s dialogue with the Future Movement launched last month is serious from both sides and serves the interests of the entire country.
He acknowledged that there has been much skepticism surrounding the effectiveness of the talks, but insisted that tangible results were being made.
“I assure you, according to the two sessions so far..., I can speak of the possibility of reaching results."
“Our interest as Lebanese as well as the interest of every people here in the region is to sit down for dialogue as a way of reaching solutions,” he added.
But the talks were not an alternative to national dialogue, he added, urging all parties in conflict with another to pursue reconciliation.
Intra-Christian dialogue is key to paving the way to electing a president, he added, offering his backing to the anticipated talks between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces.
He also rejected the notion that Lebanon needed a regional or international agreement to elect a president, insisting the country could solve the issue by itself.
The Hezbollah chief also saluted the Lebanese Army and security forces for containing the militancy on its eastern and northeastern border with Syria.
He cautioned citizens not to be victims of “psychological warfare” being used by jihadi fighters on the border, including ISIS and Nusra Front militants holding 25 Lebanese servicemen hostage.
The Army, police and resistance fighters have the border situation under control, he added, calling on Lebanese to have peace of mind, and accusing media of stirring rumors.
“The militants on the borders have failed to achieve any significant victories on the borders,” he said.
“As we have defeated the Israelis, we will defeat the takfiris, the terrorists, and anyone who attacks Lebanon.”
Nasrallah also denounced Bahrain’s recent arrest of the leader of the country’s main opposition group, calling the move “very dangerous.”
Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the al-Wefaq Islamic Society, was arrested on Dec. 28 after leading a protest rally against elections in November which his party boycotted, and subsequently charged with inciting a change of government by force, inciting hatred, inciting others to break the law and publicly insulting the Interior Ministry.
“The [arrest of Salman] implies that the Bahraini authorities have reached a wall, and that all its attempts [to quell protests] have failed.
Bahrain has been in turmoil since 2011 when a popular pro-democracy movement was violently crushed.
Protests have continued to rock the small island kingdom since the outbreak of the uprising, with multiple attempts at dialogue between the regime and opposition failing to hold.
“The people of Bahrain are calling for rights, and legitimate rights that no one can deny,” Nasrallah said.
“The most basic of the rights include an elected parliament that the people elect and not a parliament half of whose members are appointed.”
He likened the situation in Bahrain to what happened in Palestine, with foreigners moving in and marginalizing native populations.
He noted that authorities are naturalizing Sunnis from across the region to change the country’s majority-Shiite demographic, who form the bulk of the opposition.
“The son of the country who has been there for all his life is deprived of his basic rights and privileges,” Nasrallah said.
Shiites are barred from holding an array of political and security positions in the country.
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