Family, friends bid farewell to slain Lebanese publisher

A mourner, left, looks at a monument of Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A mourner, left, looks at a monument of Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

Friends and family members have bid farewell to a Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic who was killed last week

BEIRUT (AP) — Friends and family members of a slain Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic bid him farewell on Thursday at his home in southern Beirut, at a ceremony held amid tight security and attended by Western diplomats.

Lokman Slim, a 58-year-old political activist and commentator, was found dead with six bullets in his body last week on a deserted rural road in the country's south. He was visiting friends there and was due back in Beirut. When he did not return home, his family reported him missing.

Friends and diplomats flooded Slim’s family house in the Beirut southern suburb, a stronghold of Hezbollah. Muslim and Christian prayers were recited at the ceremony.

Salma Mershak, Slim’s mother and a historian, called on the Lebanese to protect his legacy and the country from descending into violence.

“Weapons don’t serve the country. They didn’t serve me, they cost me my son,” said Mershak, an Egyptian who has settled in Lebanon since the 1950s. “My wish is that you use your mind, discuss and talk if you want to create a nation that Lokman deserves.”

The U.S, German and Swiss ambassadors to Lebanon also spoke at the ceremony, demanding that those who killed the well-known researcher be brought to justice.

“This is a barbaric act, unforgivable and unacceptable,” said U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea, standing next to Slim's family at the tightly-secured gathering. “Like him, let us not be deterred. We will push for what is just, we will join you in demanding accountability for this horrific crime."

Andreas Kindl, the German ambassador, described Slim's death as a “personal loss” and called for a transparent investigation.

“We remember Lokman today. Memory and remembrance were at the core of his work” in collaboration with his wife, Monika Borgmann, Kindl said. “His legacy is that we are not allowed to forget what happened last week,” he added.

The brazen killing sparked fears of a new wave of political violence in this country gripped by social and economic upheaval.

Slim’s family has expressed skepticism that a government investigation would lead to those who killed him, citing a history of unresolved assassinations and political crimes in Lebanon. The family had hired a private forensic pathologist to carry out an independent examination of Slim’s body. Many of his friends have suspected Hezbollah supporters had a role in his killing, citing previous threats to the vocal critic of the powerful group.

Hezbollah has condemned the killing, calling for an investigation and dismissing what it called an exploitation of crimes in Lebanon by the media and its political opponents. On Thursday, Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc said in a statement that those leveling unsubstantiated accusation against the group and implicating it in Slim's killing without any evidence should be prosecuted “because they aim to incite chaos.”

Slim and Borgmann founded a research and film production center, documented stories of disappearances, prisons and national trauma in Lebanon and Syria. They also kept an elaborate archive of Lebanon's civil war history.

Slim, a Shiite, was a vocal critic of Hezbollah's hold on power in Lebanon and its regional policies. Still, he decided to continue to live in his home, which became part of the militant group's stronghold years after he was born.

The farewell ceremony for Slim was organized despite a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, another of the multiple crises that have hit Lebanon.

Salma Mershak, the mother of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, reacts during a memorial service to pay tribute to her slain son, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Salma Mershak, the mother of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, reacts during a memorial service to pay tribute to her slain son, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

Mourners and activists look to a monument of Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to him, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Mourners and activists look to a monument of Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to him, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

An activist friend of Lokman Slim hangs a portrait of Slim with Arabic reading "We are all Lokman," during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
An activist friend of Lokman Slim hangs a portrait of Slim with Arabic reading "We are all Lokman," during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

German Monika Borgmann, left, wife of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, his mother Salma Mershak, center, and his brother Hadi slim, right, attend a memorial service to pay tribute to him, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
German Monika Borgmann, left, wife of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, his mother Salma Mershak, center, and his brother Hadi slim, right, attend a memorial service to pay tribute to him, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

Activists, relatives and clerics gather and pray around a monument dedicated to Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, one week after he was found dead in his car with multiple bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Activists, relatives and clerics gather and pray around a monument dedicated to Lokman Slim during a memorial service to pay tribute to the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, one week after he was found dead in his car with multiple bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

Rasha al-Ameer, center, the sister of Lokman Slim, receives condolences during a memorial service to pay tribute the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Rasha al-Ameer, center, the sister of Lokman Slim, receives condolences during a memorial service to pay tribute the slain Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

This photo provided by Monika Borgmann shows her husband, Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group, at his desk in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Jan. 5, 2017. Slim was killed Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Borgmann said she is discussing with lawyers and friends how to push for an international investigation into her husband's murder. (Lokman Slim family via AP)
This photo provided by Monika Borgmann shows her husband, Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group, at his desk in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Jan. 5, 2017. Slim was killed Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Borgmann said she is discussing with lawyers and friends how to push for an international investigation into her husband's murder. (Lokman Slim family via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea speaks during a memorial service to pay tribute to slain Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea speaks during a memorial service to pay tribute to slain Lebanese publisher and harsh Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members bid Slim farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

Salma Mershak, the mother of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, prays during a memorial service to pay tribute to her son, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Salma Mershak, the mother of Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of Hezbollah group, prays during a memorial service to pay tribute to her son, one week after he was found dead in his car with six bullets in his body, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Scores of friends and family members of the slain Lebanese publisher bid him farewell Thursday in a ceremony attended by western diplomats and organized in his home in the southern suburb of Beirut amid tight security. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Credit: Hussein Malla

Credit: Hussein Malla

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