Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The murder of a journalist

Lebanese politician and the former editor and publisher of An-Nahar daily newspaper in Beirut, Lebanon was assassinated by a car bomb on December 12, 2005. Tueni's assassination coincided with the release of the second progress report of a United Nations inquiry into Syria's involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. The following extracts are from an article published today in Wall Street Journal in memory of Gebran Tueni:

...Gebran Tueni's defiance of despotic rule extended not only to Syrian occupation but to the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics. He described Hezbollah as "an imported product from Iran. It has nothing to do with Lebanese identity." He went on to explain that Hezbollah is "a direct threat, acting in Lebanon like a state within a state," with "weapons everywhere." Hezbollah, he said, builds schools, hospitals, provides free education to children of poor families -- "but what are they teaching?" Hezbollah's strategy, he said, "is to transform us into an Islamic republic." Tueni described Iran as providing the weapons and the funding, and Syria as providing the cover.

...He said he expected a wave of Syrian-backed "assassinations, booby-trapped cars," but did not think that could stop Lebanon's democratic movement: "They can kill one, two, three of us," but then they are "finished." He paused and smiled, "Better," he said, if they stop at "one." They didn't. Gebran Tueni has now become the latest victim in a series of terrorist bombings that are an assault not only on Lebanese democracy, but on all those in the Middle East -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- who believe government should be a civil compact, not a rule of violence and fear. The urgent question by now is not only who precisely gave the order or laid the bomb, but who will act to put an end to this terror, and how.