Over the past two decades, the Lebanese people have endured attacks on their freedom of speech and more so after the onset of the Lebanese Revolution in October 2019, with oppression, intimidations, threats, and even arrests.
However, assassinations of Lebanese intellectuals and journalists, as well as political leaders who stood up for the unity and independence of the nation, did also occur before 2019.
From Samir Kassir to Gebran Tueni and Lokman Slim, and others, journalists haven’t been spared, and their names have gone down in Lebanon’s history as those whose spoken words of truths were deemed more dangerous to the oppressors than weapons.
Between 1992 and 2021, 10 journalists were killed in Lebanon, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
On February 4th, 2021, the murderous hands of the oppressors reached the Lebanese Shiite publisher, and political activist and commentator Lokman Slim and took his life to shut off his free voice, shaking the nation across all its communities with outrage and grief.
Following Slim’s assassination, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Lebanon #107 out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. “Highly politicized media, free speech under attack,” wrote RSF about Lebanon’s media scene, which reached its lowest ranking.
Lokman Slim was a prominent and influential figure who believed in a sovereign Lebanon and a united nation and spoke freely about it. Like many in his community these past years, he did not approve of Hezbollah and was threatened for it numerous times.
In late 2019, his house was even attacked. The attackers went as far as to glorify their deed by hanging hate and murder-inciting slogans inside and outside his house.
The slogans include expressions like “Glory to the Silencer” calling for his murder, and labels like “the traitor and the collaborator,” accusing him of collaborating with Israel.
It is to note that this accusation has been a trend on social media since the Lebanese Revolution with Hezbollah’s partisans using it to intimidate people who disagree with their party.
In response to the attack on his house, Lokman Slim declared that he holds Hezbollah and the Amal movement responsible for whatever will happen to him.
The attack did not intimidate him into silence and he continues expressing his opinions, until he disappeared overnight on February 4th, 2021, and was found murdered in his car.
No arrests were made and no justice was done as of yet. Somehow, the investigations didn’t allegedly find any suspects or motives.
Lokman Slim’s assassination has turned into another one of these high-profile treacherous murders that remain unpunished to date; the like of the mass murder of over 234 people in the Beirut Blast, where politics become more important than justice.
On the one-year remembrance of Slim’s assassination, Lebanese activists are sharing their opinions and anger on social media, shaming “the silencer” with the hashtag “العار_لكاتم_الصوت#” and declaring “zero fear” with the hashtag صفر_خوف#.
These hashtags are trending on Twitter, as of the time of writing, reflecting the Lebanese people’s outrage and their refusal to be silenced and oppressed.
Human Rights Watch has also issued a report in which it showcased the flaws in the investigations by the Lebanese authorities of the assassination of Lokman Slim and others.
The report found that failures, negligence, and procedural violations happened during the investigations led by the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), which allegedly didn’t find any suspects or motives leading to this high-profile crime.