U.K. Refuses to Condemn Ambassador for Praising Hezbollah Cleric

Ambassador said Sheikh Fadlallah made and impact on everyone he meets and Lebanon would be a poorer place for his death.

LONDON - The British Foreign Office on Thursday refused to condemn its ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, for posting a comment on her blog extolling Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who died this week.

Fadlallah, Lebanon's preeminent Shi'ite clergyman, was also an early mentor of Hezbollah.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah

"One of the privileges of being a diplomat is the people you meet; great and small, passionate and furious," Guy wrote, noting that "people in Lebanon like to ask me which politician I admire most." Her answer, she continued, is that one of the Lebanese who "impressed her" the most was Fadlallah, who made "an impact on everyone he meets."

Lebanon, she added, would be a poorer place for his death.

"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," she concluded.

Gavin Cook, press officer for Britain's minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said in a statement that Guy was only expressing her personal view of Fadlallah, "describing the man as she knew him."