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The Daily Star, March 4, 2002
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Fadlallah condones human cloning
Cleric asks ‘why should anyone prohibit something new?’

Cilina Nasser
Daily Star staff

Science, and all it has to offer, should be welcomed with open arms, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said Friday as he addressed several hundred medical students and professors at the St. Joseph University during a talk that focussed on the benefits of the much-controversial cloning of human embryos.
“What is the difference between creating a human being by combining a sperm and an egg or bringing one into this world from a single cell (taken from an adult)?” the leading Shiite cleric, reputable for his frank talk, told the predominately Christian crowd during the lecture entitled Ethics in Medicine and Life.
“What have cloners really discovered?” the white-bearded Fadlallah asked. “The answer is simple, that a human being can be created from a single cell.”
“But creation is the act of God and (scientists) have simply discovered an existing phenomenon in the system of life,” he added, pointing out that cloning “does not clash with religious ideology.”
“Religion was sent to serve the human being and not vice versa, and the study of medicine serves people,” Fadlallah said.
“Why should anyone prohibit something new if it seems unusual,” and doesn’t exactly fit the norm, Fadlallah, who survived a 1985 assassination attempt by the CIA, added.
The Hizbullah spiritual leader’s name appears on a US list of terrorists, along with the resistance group, which Washington believes engages in terror practices.
Yet, Fadlallah pointed out that human embryo cloning was not “harmful to the dignity of human beings,” stressing that the practice was indeed religiously permissible.
Still, he said that the “discovery” could be abused by some. “You can use cloned body parts, but you cannot clone an entire person for the sole purpose of using his or her organs.”
During the hour-long address, Fadlallah also expressed his opposition to mercy killings and joked that, if permissible, “all Lebanese would ask for it due to the current economic situation,” after which chuckles were heard from the audience.
He further touched on a number of issues regarding ethical practices in the field of medicine, highlighting the importance of autopsies “as long as science cannot progress without it.”
Fadlallah condemned so-called honor killings, which are more common in the eastern part of the country and most notably in Baalbek, describing those who perpetrate them as “criminals.”
“Those who kill a woman to defend the honor of the family are criminals, because what they are really defending is their tradition and bigotry,” he said.
“Otherwise, why would these same parents hire a lawyer for their son when he commits (sex-related crimes),” Fadlallah added, drawing applause from the crowd.

Copyright The Daily Star

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