CNN’s Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs, Octavia Nasr, is coming under increasing pressure for a comment she made on Twitter.
She tweeted: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” following the spiritual leader’s death on Sunday. Israel-apologists are accusing her of supporting terrorism. And if they get their way, they’ll soon hound her out of her job.
But what they fail to acknowledge is that Fadlallah was a ‘moderate’ (to use the terminology of those who think that politics can be reduced to black and white). He was a man who even Britain’s Ambassador in Lebanon felt comfortable to defend. Frances Guy, the UK’s woman in Beirut, went much further than Nasr in her blog post:
“People in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire 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. 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. …
Lebanon is a lesser place the day after but his absence will be felt well beyond Lebanon’s shores. I remember well when I was nominated ambassador to Beirut, a muslim acquaintance sought me out to tell me how lucky I was because I would get a chance to meet Sheikh Fadlallah. Truly he was right. …
The world needs more men like him … May he rest in peace.”
Indeed. And may Octavia keep her job.