Lebanese Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite, took to the streets on Friday to protest against an anti-Islam film and French cartoons insulting the prophet Mohammed, with radical clerics issuing death calls.
AFP reported that protests were staged in several cities across Lebanon, including in the capital, the southern port of Sidon, Tripoli in the north and the eastern city of Baalbek.
French schools closed and the army guarded French institutions in Sidon, Beirut and Tripoli, in anticipation of a backlash against the publication of obscene cartoons of Mohammed in a French satirical magazine.
In Sidon, Sunni clerics called "a day of rage" against insults to the Mohammed but urged followers to contain their anger to inside their mosques.
The Sunni authority for Sidon and several clerics in Tripoli called for Saudi Arabia and Egypt's Al-Azhar -- the highest authorities in Sunni Islam -- to issue a fatwa condoning the murder of anyone associated with the film and for those who denigrate Islam or its prophet.
"He who dares to insult Islam and the Prophet Mohammed shall not live. There are things that cannot be tolerated and insulting the Prophet Mohammed is one of them," Sheikh Maher Hammoud, imam of the Quds mosque, was quoted by AFP as having said in his sermon.
"Every one of these should be killed,” he said.
An AFP correspondent in Sidon said that after weekly Muslim prayers, protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags while chanting "Death to America, death to Israel!"
In Tripoli, radical Islamist cleric Omar Bakri called on the "soldiers of Islam" to avenge the creators of the film mocking Islam that was produced in the United States and publishers of the cartoons, an AFP correspondent reported.
Bakri asked fellow Muslims to support a fatwa that would make it "legitimate to kill those who have insulted the Prophet Mohammed."
"I'm not in favor of the demonstrations that condemn, because they do more harm than good. They are not a solution to stop these continuous abuses against our religion; this can only happen with a strong response," Bakri was quoted as having said.
Outside Tripoli, Sheikh Mustafa Malas decried the silence of Arab and Muslim officials toward their American and French counterparts.
"Arab and Islamic countries must take a decisive stand against the United States and France after the insults to our Prophet, and boycott their goods," he said in a Friday sermon.
Protesters also burned American and Israeli flags outside a Beirut mosque, where troops stood guard nearby, AFP reported.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, at least 15 people died as fresh protests erupted against the film and the cartoons.
AFP reported that tens of thousands took to the streets after the main weekly prayers in Middle Eastern and Asian countries to vent their anger, with little sign that the angry protests which began last week would abate.
France has shut embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in 20 Muslim countries, fearing the fury will spread from U.S. targets.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)