Hizbullah spiritual leader Sheikh Mohammed Fadlallah, who authorized suicide bombings and other attacks killing hundreds of people, was “a true man of religion” whose death last week left Lebanon “a lesser place,” according to British Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy. The world “needs more men like him,” she said.
"People in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most... I usually avoid answering by referring to those I enjoy meeting the most and those that impress me the most. Until yesterday my preferred answer was to refer to Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, head of the Shia clergy in Lebanon and much admired leader of many Shia Muslims throughout the world,” Guy wrote on her blog on the website of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Guy's comments were condemned by terrorism victims' groups and by Israel's Foreign Ministry. Fadlallah inspired the terrorists of Hizbullah and gave approval to mass-casualty terrorist attacks, including a 1983 suicide bombing at a U.S. Marine barracks that killed more than 300 people, they stated.
"Fadlallah inspired the hostage takers, suicide bombers, and wanton violence of Hizbullah. But the British ambassador thinks he was a man of peace and the world needs more of him, and the British ambassador 'is an honorable woman',” said Foreign Minister spokesman Yigal Palmor. Palmor's choice of words was an allusion to Mark Antony, who when eulogizing Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's play of that name, sarcastically says that the murderer Brutus "is an honorable man."
Guy's blog entry has since been pulled from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. However, the British Foreign Office has yet to condemn her statements.
A senior CNN editor was fired this week after expressing respect for Fadlallah on the Twitter website. “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot,” editor Octavia Nasr said.
Nasr later referred to her message as “an error of judgement,” and said her respect for Fadlallah was due to his stance on women's rights, and not his support for terrorism.
Fadlallah held views on women's rights that are relatively liberal in the context of the Middle East Muslim world's treatment of women. He opposed “honor” murders, in which Muslim families kill women suspected or accused of tarnishing the family's reputation. He also told men not to beat their wives, and issued a fatwa (religious decree) saying that women who are physically attacked have the right to self-defense.
One of Fadlallah's last fatwas gave blanket approval to the use of suicide bombing attacks.