December 12th marks the 11th year since the assassination of Gebran Tueni by a car bomb. He was a Lebanese politician and the former editor and publisher of An Nahar paper. He has accomplished a lot during his life and contributed greatly to Lebanon.
Gebran Tueni’s Education
He received a bachelor of arts degree in international relations from École des Hautes Études in 1980. He also studied journalism at Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris at the same time. On top of that, he studies management at CEDEP-INSEAD in 1992
Gebran Tueni’s career started when he became the general manager, editor in chief, and editorialist for the weekly magazine An Nahar Arab and International, which was launched in Paris in 1979.
He served as the general manager of the daily newspaper An Nahar from 1993 to 1999. As well as the general manager of the monthly magazine Noun from 1997-2000.
He became an active member of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in 1990 and WAN’s advisor on Middle-Eastern affairs.
He was also a member of WAN’s Fund for Press Freedom Development, created in 1994. He was the publisher, chairman of the board, general manager, and editorialist of An Naharfrom 1 January 2000 until his death on 12 December 2005.
In March 2000 when he wrote a front-page letter to Bashar Assad calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon following the 1990 Taif Accords that put an end to Lebanon’s civil war.
His letter was published when a summit between then-US president Bill Clinton and then-Syrian President Hafez Assad was held in Geneva.
The letter led to a public objection from some newspapers and Lebanese officials. However, other writers agreed with its premises.
In April 2001, Tueni cofounded the Qornet Shehwan Gathering with nearly thirty Lebanese Christian politicians and public figures. In March 2005, he contributed to the Cedar Revolution demonstrations during which he gave the famous speech:
“In the name of God We, Muslims and Christians, pledge that united we shall remain to the end of time to defend our great Lebanon.“
In May 2005, he was elected a member of Parliament of Lebanon for the Eastern Orthodox Christian seat in Beirut’s first district on an anti-Syrian slate.
Gebran Tueni strongly supported the freedom of speech. He also encouraged the questioning of the Hafez al-Assad’s government.
When Bashar Assad aligned himself with then-Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Hassan Nasrallah, instead of backing Lebanon’s “democratic forces”.
He became a fierce critic of the Syrian government and its policies in Lebanon. He was very much for preserving and encouraging unity among Lebanese. He pushed for a Lebanon that is independent of Syrian influence and for a Lebanon that encourages the freedom of speech and press.
After the assassination of Rafic Hariri, Gebran Tueni learned that he was on the top of a hit list and started taking preventative steps, like switching cars every other day. In June 2005, his star columnist Samir Kassir was assassinated.
Then, he left Lebanon and stayed in Paris for a while and came back just before 12 December 2005, the day of the assassination. He was only 48 years old.
He was assassinated by a car bomb on the 12th of December 2005 in Mkalles while he drove from his home in Beit Meri to the offices of his newspaper in Beirut’s Martyr’s Square.
Two of his bodyguards were also killed in the explosion. He was the seventh target in a series of assassinations of politicians, journalists, and security personnel that had begun in Lebanon in 2005.
Tens of thousands of mourners filled the streets of Beirut for Tueni’s funeral on 14 December 2005. Many blamed Syria for his death due to his anti-Syrian policy and they chanted anti-Syrian slogans.
The members of the Lebanese parliament also observed a moment of silence during a special parliamentary session.
Who was responsible?
“Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom of al-Sham” claimed responsibility. The statement taking responsibility was also faxed to Reuters and included a warning that the same fate awaited other opponents of “Arabism” in Lebanon, claiming that the assassination has succeeded in “shutting up” a traitor.
Many anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians blamed Syria but the Syrian authorities denied having anything to do with it. However, Tueni’s assassination was the latest attack against a series of vocal anti-Syrian Lebanese high-profile people.
There’s still an active push to find out who killed Gebran Tueni and hold them accountable. The investigation is still ongoing but we haven’t gotten any updates in years.
It’s important that we don’t let his death go in vain. We must remember his message of unity among Lebanese and of protecting Lebanon. May he rest in peace.