US envoy: Slim murder an unforgivable barbaric act

Special US envoy: Slim murder an unforgivable barbaric act
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Pictures of Lokman Slim, a Shi'ite publisher and activist, are seen during a memorial service to pay tribute to him, one week after he was found dead in his car, in Beirut, Lebanon February 11, 2021. (REUTERS)
Special US envoy: Slim murder an unforgivable barbaric act
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Activists display placards bearing the portrait of slain prominent activist Luqman Slim and the Arabic slogan ‘zero fear’ at a demonstration in downtown Beirut on Feb. 9, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 12 February 2021

US envoy: Slim murder an unforgivable barbaric act

US envoy: Slim murder an unforgivable barbaric act
  • The first killing of a high-profile activist in Lebanon in years

BEIRUT: A memorial service for anti-Hezbollah activist Luqman Slim was held in the garden of his family’s house in the south Beirut Dahye suburbs.

Slim, 58, was shot dead and found in his car last Thursday in the village of Sarafand, south Lebanon — the first killing of a high-profile anti-Hezbollah activist in years. The murderer remains unknown.

Slim’s mother, Salma Mershak, quietly cried at his memorial ceremony and listened to Muslim and Christian prayers by Sheikh Hassan Al-Amin and Father Georges Sadaqa.

The marble memorial monument in Slim’s garden in Haret Hreik was covered by hundreds of lilies and surrounded by dozens of people who came to bid farewell to Slim, despite the total lockdown. Ambassadors from the US, Germany, and Switzerland attended the memorial service, along with independent and anti-Hezbollah MPs, activists, and friends of Slim and his family.

Lebanese soldiers and intelligence agents guarded the house, along with security staff from embassies, notably the security personnel of US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, whose presence in the Hezbollah stronghold Haret Hreik in Dahye was considered an unprecedented step.

Shea shed a tear as she mourned Slim. “I am proud and sad to be here today to express solidarity with you personally. We are saddened to have lost a great person through such an unacceptable barbaric act that we will never forget.”

Shea spoke on “Slim’s role in serving the people of Lebanon and its freedom, which should not be subject to fear or violence.”

She urged “the need to know who committed this heinous crime,” and vowed to “continue supporting the institutions Slim had established.”

Activist Dr. Mona Fayad told Arab News: “We are still waiting for an in-depth and transparent investigation of this crime. The area where Slim was assassinated is under the authority of Hezbollah. Hezbollah claims to handle the security in this area and know what is happening in Tal Abib and inside the White House. But why has Hezbollah not told us how this crime was committed? The investigation is being handled by a security member from the village’s post.”

Slim’s mother, an Egyptian Christian, addressed the youth at the service and urged them to “uphold the principles Slim died for.”

Mershak added: “If you really want a nation, the burden is heavy. I ask you to embrace dialogue and reason to create a country Slim deserves. Do not be small-minded. Stay away from arms. Arms will not benefit the country. Arms did not benefit me. I lost my son. Luqman will forever remain in my heart. You will continue what he had started and establish the nation the Lebanese and Luqman deserve.”

German Ambassador to Lebanon Andreas Kindl spoke about his relationship with Slim and termed his death a great and personal loss. He stressed the need to continue the work Slim and his wife had started in their research to document the Lebanese civil war.

Kindl called on the Lebanese “not to forget what happened last week, to seek the truth and conduct a transparent investigation.”

Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Monika Schmutz Kirgöz said she was shocked over Slim’s murder. “Slim and his wife Monika Borgmann had been working on documenting an unwritten history for the past five years, as they believed in what they were doing and were convinced that those who ignore their past, cannot understand their present or plan their future, and Switzerland fully supports them.” She said her country “has lost a friend. We will make sure that the work Slim started continues.”

Melhem Khalaf, head of the Beirut Bar Association, said different views and opinions “are Lebanon’s treasure. We want to preserve this treasure and do not want to eliminate the others. Words cannot be killed with bullets, crime, or violence. Today, we should not let ourselves slip into this hell.”

The young people at the service raised pictures of Slim that read: “Luqman Slim will be remembered”.

His sister, novelist Rasha Al-Amir, chose a verse from a poem written in the ninth century by Al-Moutannabi and engraved it on the monument in golden Arabic letters: “You stood up knowing that those who stood would die, as if you were in the eyelid of death while it was sleeping.”