Accessibility links

Britain Removes Ambassador's Blog Post Praising Late Lebanese Cleric

The British government says it has removed a blog post by its ambassador to Beirut praising Lebanon's controversial top Shi'ite cleric, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who died earlier this week.

In a blog entry titled The Passing of a Decent Man, Ambassador Frances Guy wrote she was saddened by Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah's death last Sunday, and that the world "needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths."

A Foreign Office spokesman said the blog had been taken down Friday because it expressed a "personal view" that did not reflect the British government's policy.

Fadlallah was revered by many Shi'ite Muslims around the world for his moderate social views. But he was also a fierce critic of the United States and Israel, which formally designated him a terrorist for openly advocating attacks against the Jewish state.

Fadlallah was often described in Western media reports as the spiritual mentor of Hezbollah, formed with Iran's help after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, although he denied having such a role.

The criticism of Guy's blog follows the firing of a senior correspondent at CNN for Middle East news over a similar episode. Octavia Nasr was fired this week after posting a message to Twitter saying she had respected Fadlallah.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.