4 Jul 2010

Lebanons' leading Shiite leader dies

10:04 pm on 4 July 2010

Lebanon's leading Shia Muslim cleric, seen as a key figure in the founding of militant group Hezbollah, has died aged 74, hospital sources have said.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was regarded as Hezbollah's spiritual guide after the group was founded in 1982, a charge both denied.

The BBC reports he was an implacable critic of the US, and had a wide following among Shias and backed the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

But he was known among Shias for his moderate social views, reports said.

He held particularly progressive views on the role of women in Islamic society.