|SAMIR KASSIR, WRITER MURDERED WHILE DEFENDING FREEDOM
15 June 2005
In a challenging message to the international community, prominent writer Samir Kassir was murdered
in midday during a visit by U.N. Special Investigator Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. Lebanese Statesman
Rafik Hariri was similarly murdered midday in Beirut 14 February in an explosion so powerful that
the observation scale at the American University registered what amounted to an earthquake.
The Secretary General issued an immediate condemnation of both terrorist acts. A tendency to
expand the investigation into Mr. Hariri's murder to that of Mr. Kassir was short-lived. The U.S.,
which supported the "Cedar revolution" and France, which considers him one of its distinguished
citizens, seemed to support that request, but decided against it later, allowing the new Lebanese
government to take action. The prominent columnist in Beirut daily An-Nahar was killed
by a timed bomb taped to his car as he was leaving home to his office on the morning of Thursday
2 June. His hard-hitting comments which appeared every Friday on the paper's front page focused
on freedom of speech and human dignity. A Lebanese born of a Palestinian father and Syrian mother,
he sustained a courageous sharp attack on the local security services controlled or trained by
Syrian elements across the border. For the last five years he was trailed, and openly threatened.
His passport was lifted for a while on the claim that his nationality required clarification. He
never wavered. When friends and colleagues cautioned him that his sharp wit may be placing his life
in danger, he would laugh and write even tougher comments. As a professor at the Universite Saint
Joseph, Kassir inspired youth into active involvement in shaping their country's destiny. During the
Spring of Beirut, or the Cedar Revolution, Samir Kassir supplied the main intellectual inspiration.
While politicians posed for photos, he stayed with the young crowds in their tents of many colours and
varied backgrounds -- chatting, arguing, mobilizing.
Most recently, he managed to draw in a number of active Syrian writers who openly questioned the
tight grip of the Baath party in Damascus. He felt confident that he was safe because he campaigned
peacefully and argued with good reason. He thought that an adversary could only argue, threaten or
cajole but not kill. But those threatened by freedom, ruthless thugs, could not bear to see his
smile of victory, as a unified Lebanese front retrieved the country's unity and sovereignty. They could
not bear their defeat as the Lebanese people were voting on their own destiny. In desperation they
killed Samir Kassir not realizing that his martyrdom will only expose them further and quicken their
demise and hasten the resurrection of free dynamic and sovereign Lebanon.