CNN has fired its senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs after she published a Twitter message praising the late Lebanese Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
Octavia Nasr has been told to leave the US television news network after praising the Lebanese cleric who died from internal bleeding in a Beirut hospital on Sunday.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Seyyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” Nasr wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter on Sunday.
CNN officials learned of Nasr’s message on Monday and shortly after, a written statement on CNN’s website said Nasr had made an “error of judgment.”
“CNN regrets any offense her Twitter message caused. It did not meet CNN’s editorial standards. This is a serious matter and will be dealt with accordingly,” the New York Times quoted a CNN spokesman as saying on Thursday.
In a blog post on Tuesday, she wrote she was sorry for the message and that she 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 woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of ‘honor killing.’ He called the practice primitive and nonproductive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam.”
Nasr’s explanation was apparently “too late – too little” for her CNN bosses.
Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president for CNN international newsgathering, said that Nasr was told to leave because her credibility had been “compromised.”
Nasr had worked at the news network for the past two decades.
Her dismissal comes exactly a month after veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas retired after coming under fire over controversial remarks about Israel.
Nasr’s Twitter post now appears to have been deleted.
Ayatollah Fadlallah was regarded as Hezbollah’s spiritual guide after it was founded in 1982. A vocal critic of the United States, he regularly criticized US warmongering policies in the Middle East, particularly its alliance with Israel.
He delivered lectures, wrote extensively, founded several Islamic religious schools, and established the Mabarrat Association.
The Grand Ayatollah was the target of several assassination attempts, including the CIA-sponsored and Saudi-funded March 8, 1985 Beirut car bombing that killed 80 people.