Lokman Slim.—AFP
Lokman Slim.—AFP

BEIRUT: A prominent Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah was found shot dead in his car on Thursday morning, a brazen killing that sparked fears of a return to political violence in this country gripped by social and economic upheaval.

The body of 58-year-old Lokman Slim, a long-time Shia political activist and researcher, was slumped over on the passenger seat with multiple wounds from gunshots fired at close range, security and forensic officials said.

According to AP, Slim had been missing for hours since late Wednesday and his family posted social media messages looking for him.

To his friends, Slim was a fearless critic of Lebanon’s powerful politicians, Hezbollah and its allies Iran and Syria, and a major resource on the history of Lebanon’s civil war. His killing raised fears that Lebanons political tensions could turn into a new wave of assassinations.

Lokman Slim spent years working relentlessly to preserve Lebanon’s memory of its 1975-1990 civil war

Critics, however, accused Slim of sowing sedition, undermining national unity and being a Zionist because of his criticisms of Hezbollah.

The son of a prominent lawyer and an Egyptian mother, Slim was an activist, writer, publisher and filmmaker, as well as a leading secular voice in the Shia Muslim community.

He advocated curbing the influence of Hezbollah, the pro-Iran and anti-Israel political party and armed group that has millions of followers in Lebanon but is labelled a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and other governments.

Slim also spent years working relentlessly to preserve Lebanon’s collective memory of its 1975-1990 civil war and carried out acclaimed research on topics such as mass graves and transitional justice.

He created an organisation called Umam Documentation and Research with the aim of building an unparalleled archive of the civil war, arguing that Lebanon could not move forward until it had dealt with its past.

He was known for his love of books and mastery of the Arabic language.

His home in the southern Beirut suburbs, known as Villa Slim, was a hub of cultural activity, where several languages could always be heard and where film screenings and exhibitions were often organised.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2021

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