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June 03, 2005



So, I went to the candlelight vigil/march last night in Beirut. We gathered at 8 and walked to the assassination site (that sounds clinical - to Qasir's home) around 9 p.m. It was obviously impromptu, but I was pleased to see several thousands. Though someone I know in the crowd complained that it was the "usual suspects" at the vigil, I think the crowd was a bit more diverse, at least in age if not in those visible markers of religion and class.

A lot of the folks there last night were academics. I raise this because people are writing about Qasir as a journalist, but for the Lebanese he's also very much an intellectual, and at the University yesterday, some people were more than a little shaken. I'm sure it was for the loss of a friend/colleague, but also out of fear over what happens when intellectuals are targeted alongside politicians.

It was a tasteful vigil. The same cannot be said for this morning's papers, though, which I'm afraid confirms your point, Abu. I'm feeling ready to go home. A dark day in Beirut, I think, is all the darker for being in Beirut, where something so ugly lies beneath so much beauty.

David W

on Monday, there is supposed to be a march in front of Lahoud's palace, which will be interesting, to say the least. I doubt anything will happen, as it seems that his side's methods are to strike anonymously, and avoid confrontation...

I agree that the elections seem to be 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss,' but if anything positive can come from Qassir's assassination, it would be to keep the popular front activated and together, rather than just reverting to the old sectarian lines.


It took South Korea years to become a true democracy. Is there no possibility for hope?

Nur al-Cubicle

btw Qassir's mother was a 1948 Palestinian refugee and his father was Syrian. Qassim was a Greek Orthodox Christian, Professor of Political Science at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, a History PhD and editorialist for the newspaper al-Nahar

Interview with Emile Sanbar from Le Monde.

Q. As editor of the Palestinian Studies Review, you knew Samir Qassir well since he worked for you from 1986 to 1994. What is the symbolic importance of his murder?

A. It’s a Lebanese murder, but it extends beyond Lebanon. An Arab intellectual has just been assassinated. We see it in the unprecedented emotion permeating through the intelligentsia from Morocco to Palestine. Figures in the Syrian opposition told me yesterday how overcome with sorrow they were. Samir was a Lebanese, his mother was a 1948 Palestinian refugee and his father was Syrian. These three dimensions highlight his identity as a true Arab. People say that he was "courageous". That came from his convictions. For him, the essential role of a journalist was to preserve freedom of speech, to help create a world without fear so that all Arabs can attain democracy, no longer confined to their tiny national spaces.

Q. Not only was Kassir a critic of the Lebanese state, the Syrian presence and corruption, he also attempted to define what he called the “Arab malaise” and its obstructive underpinnings or “handicaps”. What did he mean by that?

A. Qassir attempted to analyze the obstructions within the Arab world and the reasons for its inability to step aboard the train of modernity. The primordial handicap which bars democracy and freedom rested, according to Kassim, on the relationship between reality and truth. He used to say to the Arabs: Look, let’s stop reworking our history and revising the truth. Let us look reality in the face: the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, the Lebanese Civil War or the nature of nationalist Arab régimes. It’s the only way to overcome our collective malaise. And he was convinced that the Arab world possessed all the ability to overcome its “malaise”.

Q. What lies at the core of this handicap?
A. Samir realized that it was impossible to challenge an adversary, whoever that might be, without a critical assessment of oneself. He was our intellectual engine. That’s why he led so many battles, like that at the end of the 1990’s against a revisionist colloquium in Beirut in which Roger Garaudy figured prominently.

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,[email protected],[email protected],0.html

David W

Saving Private Saad, and ourselves

here's a link to a column in The Daily Star about the next moves in Lebanese politics, and why young Saad is in a crucial position--Joshua Landis, in his most excellent SyriaComment.com calls it "the most persuasive road map of Lebanese political psychology I have yet to read."

Saving Private Saad, and ourselves

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