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Hezbollah says Egyptians fight for "Arab dignity"

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 7 Feb 2011 16:03 GMT
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* Nasrallah compares Egypt protests to 2006 war

* Says Egyptian demonstrations change Middle East

BEIRUT, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday Egyptian protesters demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak were changing the Middle East with their battle for "Arab dignity".

"Your movement will entirely change the face of our region for the interest of its own people," Nasrallah said in a televised address to a conference in Beirut, held to support the popular uprising in Egypt.

"You are going through the battle of Arab dignity, restoring the dignity of Arab people," he said.

Egypt has been rocked by two weeks of protests demanding Mubarak, who has ruled for 30 years, step down before his term expires in September. Mubarak has refused, saying his departure would cause chaos in the Arab world's most populous nation, while saying he will not run for re-election in September.

Mubarak's government is suspicious of Hezbollah's links to Iran and backs the Shi'ite group's political rivals in Lebanon. Last year an Egyptian court sentenced Hezbollah member Sami Chehab to 15 years in prison on charges of planning attacks in the country. Hezbollah said Chehab escaped from jail last week in the chaos of the Egyptian uprising.

Nasrallah told the Egyptian protesters that his group did not seek to intervene in their "internal business" or influence their decisions.

But he praised their achievements, saying they were as significant as the 2006 war in which Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill, and said he wished he could be with them in Cairo's Tahrir Square -- epicentre of the protests.

"What you have done is no less significant than the historic steadfastness the Islamic Resistance achieved in 2006 and the resistance in Gaza in 2008," he said, referring to the Israeli military assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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