Britain removes ambassador's blog praising cleric Fadlallah

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British government said Friday it has taken down a blog posting by its ambassador to Lebanon praising late Shiite cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, saying her views clashed with official policy.

Ambassador Frances Guy wrote an obituary to Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah, a former spiritual mentor of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah who was branded a "terrorist" in Washington, after his death on Sunday.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the blog had been removed because it expressed a "personal view" on the cleric which did not reflect Britain's "disagreements" with him, particularly his attitude to Israel.

Entitled "The Passing of Decent Men", Guy's blog described Fadlallah as the politician in Lebanon she enjoyed meeting the most.

"When you visited him you could be sure of a real debate, a respectful argument and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person," she wrote on her official Foreign Office blog.

"That for me is the real effect of a true man of religion; leaving an impact on everyone he meets, no matter what their faith."

Mourning his death, the ambassador said: "Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon's shores."

She added: "The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The ambassador expressed a personal view on Sheik Sayyed Fadlallah, describing the man as she knew him. This did not fully reflect HMG (government) policy and the blog has been taken down.

"While we welcomed his progressive views on women's rights and interfaith dialogue, we also had profound disagreements -- especially over his statements advocating attacks on Israel."

Fadlallah was a top authority in Shiite Islam and many followers revered him for his moderate social views, openness and pragmatism.

But he was also a fiery critic of the United States and Israel and was an advocate of suicide attacks as a means of fighting the Jewish state's occupation of Arab land.

Guy is not the first person to get in trouble over Fadlallah's death -- a senior editor for US television network CNN left her job this week after sending a message on Twitter praising him.

© 2010 AFP

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