Service marks sixth anniversary of Tueni’s death

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: A prayer service was held at noon Sunday to mark the sixth anniversary of the assassination of prominent slain journalist Jibran Tueni.

Friends, family and dignitaries gathered at St. George Church in Downtown Beirut to pay tribute to the politician and former publisher of An-Nahar newspaper who was killed in a car bomb on Dec. 12, 2005.

Tueni was known to be a strong and vocal critic of Syrian political and military presence in Lebanon. He had also called for an investigation into mass graves near the former Syrian intelligence headquarters in the Bekaa Valley region of Anjar and had written a column accusing the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad of “committing crimes against humanity.”

Among those in attendance were Economy and Trade Minister Nicolas Nahhas, MPs Ammar Houry, Marwan Hamadeh, Akram Chehayeb and Butros Harb. Also present were U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly, and media personality May Chidiac – herself the target assassination attempt in September 2005.

Presiding over the service was Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audi, who said that Tueni “remains in the hearts of everyone.” He added that Tueni died for a cause he defended – the unity of his country.

“Gebran defended the rights of his nation. He was a free man who aspired for a country free of slavery, dominion and insults,” Audi said. “Gebran dreamt of a unified and strong country where the talents and strengths of its people will shine through.”

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement that the “emptiness left by the absence of Gebran, in our national and media lives, was huge.”

“His voice still resonates in the conscience of the Lebanese people who gathered in the Freedom Square and ignited the first spark of the Arab popular movements against policies of oppression and tyranny,” said the head of the Future Movement.

In March 2005, Tueni delivered a speech in which he called on Lebanese of all faiths to stand together to defend their country.

“The oath Gibran made in front of the Lebanese people still reverberates in all occasions of freedom and justice,” Hariri added. “His oath constituted a resounding cry that was repeated by hundreds of thousands of people, in response to the calls for division and the attempts to circumvent the uprising of independence and its slogans.”

“Our great consolation nowadays, is that the cause of freedom, for which martyr Gebran Tueni fought and paid his life, is achieving unprecedented victories throughout the Arab world.”