Hezbollah terror chief tells France to back down over Muhammad cartoons
After Macron defends right to caricature the Muslim prophet, Nasrallah issues warning: ‘You need to think about correcting this mistake’
BEIRUT — The head of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah on Friday told France to back down from its defense of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Do not allow this mockery, this aggression… to continue, and the whole world will stand with you,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said.
“French authorities instead of fixing the issue… became stubborn about this being freedom of expression,” Nasrallah said. “You need to think about correcting this mistake.”
Anger has erupted in the Muslim world over French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense earlier this month of the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The French leader spoke after an Islamic extremist beheaded a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb on October 16.
The teacher had shown cartoons of Muhammad published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a lesson on freedom of expression.
Nasrallah urged France to “be fair and just.”
“No Muslim in the world will accept our dignity… the dignity of our Prophet, being insulted,” the terror leader said.
France has been on high alert since a January 2015 massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo after it published caricatures of Muhammad, with a wave of jihadist attacks killing more than 250 people since.
Nasrallah also condemned the killings a day earlier of three people in a church in the French city of Nice. The suspected attacker was a young Tunisian man who had recently arrived in France.
Macron called the slaughter an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
“This event is rejected by Islam… which forbids the killing of innocents,” Nasrallah said of the Nice attack. “Even if the perpetrator was a Muslim, no one should hold Islam accountable for this crime.”
He urged France to avoid stoking tensions.
“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,” Nasrallah said.
But, he warned, it was a “losing battle.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.