BEIRUT (Reuters) - Britain has removed a blog from the website of its ambassador to Beirut in which she praised Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, an early spiritual mentor of Hezbollah who died last week.
In her blog, titled ‘The passing of decent men’, Frances Guy wrote that she was saddened by Fadlallah’s death and that the world “needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths”.
Fadlallah was revered by many Shi‘ite Muslims across the Middle East and Central Asia, and was known for his moderate social views and for trying to minimise Muslim sectarian differences.
But he was designated a terrorist by the United States and Israel because of his links to Hezbollah and his support for suicide attacks against the Jewish state.
“Sheikh Fadlallah inspired suicide bombings, assassinations and wanton violence. But the British ambassador said the world needs more like him,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
A British Foreign Office spokesman said Guy’s blog had been removed “after mature consideration”.
The criticism of her blog followed the firing of a senior CNN editor for Middle East news who published a Twitter message that said she respected Fadlallah.
In her blog, the British ambassador said she had been impressed when she met the cleric.
“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,” Guy wrote.
“If I was sad to hear the news (of his death) I know other peoples’ lives will be truly blighted. May he rest in peace.”
Fadlallah was a supporter of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and one of the first backers of the Iraqi Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He was also the spiritual leader and mentor of Hezbollah when it was formed after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, though he later distanced himself from its ties with Iran.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah was blamed for abduction of Westerners in the 1980s and suicide attacks on U.S. and French targets in Lebanon.
(Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr in Jerusalem; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)
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