CNN editor sacked for Hizbollah "admiration"

By Jessica Elgot, July 8, 2010
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Octavia Nasr

Octavia Nasr

The CNN Middle East editor has been sacked after using Twitter to express her admiration for a Hizbollah cleric.

Beirut-born journalist Octavia Nasr said in a Tweet last week: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hizbollah's giants I respect a lot."

A CNN spokesman said that Ms Nasr was leaving because her impartiality had been “compromised”.

The Shia cleric was believed to be the spiritual leader of Lebanese terrorist group Hizbollah, and was one of the top clerics in the country.

He was known for his outspoken hatred of Israel and the West – regularly praising suicide bombers and rocket attacks against Israel.

Ms Nasr explained in a blog post that she had admired Fadlallah’s relatively progressive stance on women’s rights.

She wrote on her blog: “"Reaction to my Tweet was immediate, overwhelming and provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East.

“It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work. That's not the case at all.”

"I used the words 'respect' and 'sad' because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on women's rights. This does not mean I respected him for what else he did or said. Far from it.

"It is no secret that Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel. He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens."

American Jewish Committee demanded an apology for "a grave insult and a worrying display of the sympathies of a journalist whom the public expects to be impartial".

Last updated: 11:02am, July 8 2010