A prominent Lebanese writer and strident opponent of Hezbollah was found dead in his car in southern Lebanon on Thursday morning, hours after going missing as he drove to Beirut.
Police said Lokman Slim, 59, a well-known political commentator, had been shot in the head. He was an outspoken critic of the militant group and political powerhouse who had regularly drawn the ire of its followers.
Jawad Nasrallah, the son of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, tweeted minutes after his death was confirmed: “The loss of some people is in fact an unplanned gain #notsorry.” He later deleted the message and claimed he had not been referring to Slim.
The murder of yet another critical voice in Lebanon has once again stirred anger towards a political class that is either powerless, or unwilling, to bring assassins to account. In recent decades, assassinations have been routinely used as political weapons, with almost all remaining unsolved and the impunity surrounding them becoming a fact of Lebanese life.
Killings of Lebanese public intellectuals have been relatively rare, however, with the assassination of Slim the first of its kind since the murder of the history professor and journalist Samir Kassir 16 years ago.
“He was loved, he was humble and people loved him,” said Slim’s sister, Rasha Slim. “His opponents have lost a noble fighter who lived among them, and debated them with intelligence, reason, and with love. This is a loss to all of Lebanon. Murder is a an undignified act, it gives an example to the work that we murder those who disagree with us. Murder is their only language; we know who’s in charge of the area where my brother was killed.”
In recent months, Slim had told friends and visitors to his home and studio in Beirut’s southern suburbs that his enemies had threatened him. His office was in the heart of the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh, from where he regularly spoke against the group and its positions. Hezbollah branded him a Shia Muslim who had turned against the group. Two years ago, Hassan Nasrallah described Slim as a “Shiite of the embassies”, referring to his close contacts with foreign diplomats.
Slim had also taken a prominent stake in the anti-government demonstrations that rippled across Lebanon from October 2019, setting up a tent in Beirut’s downtown district, in which he railed against the country’s leadership and system of government and advocated neutrality with neighbouring Israel, with whom Lebanon technically remains at war.
He maintained a non-profit organisation, Umam, which acted as a cultural exhibition and a historical archive of the disappeared during the Lebanese civil war. He also had a civic group, named Hayya Bina, and made several films with his wife, Monika Borgmann.
Slim’s death led some Lebanese leaders to warn of a further descent into lawlessness, as the country grapples with a withering economic meltdown, political deadlock and the aftermath of the devastating…
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