Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah condemned a U.S.-made film about the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday, which triggered violent protests in Libya and Egypt, as an attack on religious belief which it said reflected Western policy.
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In a statement which made no reference to the killing of U.S. diplomats in Libya in apparent response to the film, Hezbollah said the film was an "immoral act which represents the highest degree of aggression against the highest human right ... for respect of beliefs and sanctities".
The film aimed to stir tensions and hatred between Muslims and Copts in Egypt and reflected "the true position of the American-Zionist alliance towards Islam and Muslims," it said.
"In this context, the statements of official U.S. condemnation no longer fool anyone," Hezbollah said, referring to official U.S. criticism of the film.
In the Libyan city of Benghazi gunmen attacked and burned the U.S. consulate, killing one consular official. The U.S. ambassador and embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on their car as they were rushed from the consular building, a Libyan official said.
Protesters in Egypt tore down an American flag and burned it during a demonstration on Tuesday against the film. Egypt's prime minister said on Wednesday the U.S. government should not be blamed for a film that insulted the Prophet Mohammad and led to an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, but urged Washington to take action against the film producers.
"What happened at the U.S. embassy in Cairo is regrettable and rejected by all Egyptian people and cannot be justified," Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said, adding that he asks the U.S. government "to take a firm position toward this film's producers within the framework of international charters that criminalize acts that stir strife on the basis of race, color or religion."
U.S. pastor Terry Jones, who inflamed Muslim anger in 2010 with plans to burn the Koran, said he had promoted the film "Innocence of Muslims", which U.S. media said was produced by an Israeli-American property developer. Clips of another film called "Mohammad, Prophet of Muslims", circulated for weeks before the protest.
That film portrayed Mohammad as a fool, a philanderer and a religious fake. In one clip posted on YouTube Mohammad was shown in a sexual act with a woman.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet offensive and any depiction of him can cause outbursts of anger in the Islamic world and among Muslims in Europe.
Hezbollah's statement, which comes two days before Pope Benedict is due to visit Lebanon, also called for Christians and Muslims at the highest level to address the issue.