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Hezbollah TV Spot Mimics ‘Passion’ Trailer

May 16, 2004

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The Islamic guerrilla group Hezbollah is airing a promotional TV spot comparing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners to the suffering of Jesus, based on a trailer for Mel Gibson’s movie ``The Passion of the Christ.″

The 40-second spot, made by Hezbollah’s satellite TV station, Al-Manar, shows images of a coalition soldier kicking an Iraqi prisoner and a man and woman cowering in terror as troops burst into their home. The words ``no mercy″ and ``no compassion″ flash on the screen.

The soundtrack for Gibson’s film plays in the background as the title, ``The Passion of the Iraqis,″ appears next to the infamous photo of a hooded Iraqi prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his outstretched arms.

The clip started airing a few days ago.

``The suffering of Jesus Christ is a universal theme. It is something everyone, including us as Muslims, believes in,″ Ibrahim Mousawi, who heads Al-Manar’s political programs, told The Associated Press on Saturday.

``We are simply using a universal theme to get an important message across: that the pain of the Iraqi people is deep, the level of torture appalling,″ Mousawi said.

Muslims revere Jesus Christ as a prophet but not as the messiah. They believe someone else was crucified in his place.

``The Passion of the Christ″ received an exceptionally warm welcome and drew large audiences in the Arab world, which usually bans movies depicting any of the prophets recognized by Islam.

Al-Manar, known for its diatribes against Israel, has aired controversial programming in the past. A miniseries it showed last year about the founding of Israel, ``Al-Shatat,″ was denounced by Washington and the Jewish state as anti-Semitic propaganda.

Israel and the United States regard Hezbollah, based in south Lebanon, as a terrorist group. Lebanon regards it as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

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