SHAFAQNA – Sayyed Hani Fahs, a prominent Shiite religious figure known for his open opposition to Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict, died Thursday, succumbing to a long illness. He was 68. Fahs had been admitted to the hospital a few days ago, and had been in a coma. A moderate figure commanding wide respect inside and outside the Shiite community, and an advocate of cultural and religious rapprochement, Fahs was a founding member of the Permanent Conference for Inter-Lebanese Dialogue, and the Arab Team for Muslim-Christian Dialogue. A member of the Shariah Council of the Higher Shiite Islamic Council, Fahs was an outspoken critic of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war on the regime’s side and had reportedly developed and maintained strong relations with the Syrian opposition. In 2012, Fahs issued a statement with another anti-Hezbollah Shiite scholar, Sayyed Mohammad Hassan al-Amin, calling on Lebanon’s Shiites to support the popular uprising in neighboring Syria.
A graduate from the school of theology of Najaf in Iraq, Fahs ran for parliamentary elections in 1992, without success. He lived in Iran between 1982 and 1985, during which he worked at the press office of the school of theology in Qom. A writer and a poet, he published at least 13 books on religion, politics and society. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri hailed Fahs’ role in Lebanon. Fahs’ “rich experiences and positions will remain imprinted in our national memory,” Hariri said in a statement. “The absence of Sayyed Hani Fahs is a great loss to the values of moderation and dialogue, which he defended and devoted his life to.” Hailing Fahs as a “wise” man, Hariri said “I personally feel the magnitude of this loss since I knew Sayyed Hani in the most difficult circumstances.”