Supporters of Hezbollah reacted angrily on Friday after the group’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, was lampooned on a national comedy show, Al-Arabiya reports.
The Basmat Watan parody show included an actor playing Nasrallah this week. The program mocked Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, which has become a very touchy subject within the movement.
The show’s “Nasrallah” lamented his group’s involvement in Syria. When the interviewer agreed, “Nasrallah” clarified that he was upset because, “Our participation came too late. We should have been there from day one.”
The show’s “Nasrallah” also expressed regret over Hezbollah’s extensive weaponry, another controversial topic. The regret: that Hezbollah’s massive arsenal does not include submarines and an air force.
The interviewer then asked about Iran’s control of the Lebanese group, leading “Nasrallah” to quickly conclude the interview.
Nasrallah’s supporters took to the streets following the program, burning tires and blocking roads in various Lebanese cities. The group reacted similarly following a previous “Nasrallah” appearance on Basmat Watan in 2006.
Producer Charbel Khalil responded to the controversy on Twitter and said that the show has mocked religious figures in the past. Nasrallah is a political figure as well as a religious figure, he noted, and as such is a target for parody.
Hezbollah has faced heavy criticism from within and without over its involvement in Syria, where it has sustained heavy losses in fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s army.
The group has also faced recent challenges in southern Lebanon. In September, Christian villagers successfully protested an attempt by Hezbollah to wiretap their town. Later that month the Lebanese government announced that it would send the national army to secure Hezbollah-dominated suburbs – effectively limiting Hezbollah’s power in its traditional strongholds.