The assassination of Lokman Slim was a huge shock that sparked widespread anger and condemnation on the Lebanese scene for what it represented as an attack on culture and freedom.
Lokman Slim was a Lebanese political activist, publisher, and political commentator known for his fierce opposition to Hezbollah.
He lived most of his life in Haret Hreik, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where he was born in 1962.
The Rise of an Intellectual
At the age of 20, Slim traveled to France to study philosophy at the prestigious Sorbonne University, returning to Lebanon in 1988, and founding Dar Al-Jadeed Publishing House in 1990.
Dar Al-Jadeed is famous for publishing controversial essays and articles, including translations of the writings of the former President of Iran, Sayyid Mohammad Khatami, the man regarded as Iran‘s first reformist president.
As such, over the years, Slim‘s work generated a lot of controversy in the Shia community and got him accused of being an “agent” and labeled as a “zionist” and other traitorous labels by opponents of his views, mainly in the Hezbollah environment.
Himself a Shiite, the activist’s focus was in Shia-majority areas, including his own “Dahyeh,” southern Lebanon, and the Beqaa Valley, where he launched various social, cultural, and environmental projects over the years, ranging from clean-up projects such as the Assi River in Hermel to political activities such as discussions with officials.
Other projects included Teach Women English, run by Slim‘s most recent initiative, Hayya Bina, with the aim of making English-language education accessible to women in poor areas.
The program remains the only nationwide English education program for adult women in the country.
Before this, in the early 2000s, Slim ventured into the arts, establishing Umam Productions, and producing acclaimed films.
Additionally, in 2004, he co-founded Umam Documentation and Research, a Haret-Hreik-based NGO that focuses on archiving historical and cultural materials related to Lebanon’s political and social history, with a particular interest in the Lebanese Civil War and its effects on the country.
“Glory to the Silencer”
Lokman Slim‘s invaluable contributions, coupled with his vocal opposition to Hezbollah and Iranian policy, gradually made him both an influential Lebanese figure as well as a target for his opponents, who were very outspoken with their threats.
Late in 2019, Slim‘s house was attacked, and printed slogans that included “Lokman Slim, the agent traitor,” “Hezbollah is the honor of the nation,” and “Glory to the Silencer” were stuck on one of its walls.
In response, the revered intellectual issued a statement, on December 13th, 2019, which included a condemnation of the attacks, in addition to the following declaration:
“… I hold the de facto forces, represented by the person of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah and the person of Mr. Nabih Berri, fully responsible for what happened, and for what might happen, and I place myself, my home, the family home, and its residents in the protection of the Lebanese security forces, [primarily] the Lebanese Army.”
Nasrallah, Hezbollah‘s chief, had previously described Slim as a “Shiite of the embassies,” a label that grew in popularity among Hezbollah supporters following the October 17th uprising, who commonly use it to describe Shiites who oppose Hezbollah and its policies.
It is to note that Slim was a prominent and active force and voice in the 2019 anti-government protests.
Despite receiving many threats in recent times, Lokman Slim refused to move his residence and workplace from the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut, and he continued to voice his thoughts loudly from within the heart of the lion’s den.
In the wake of his shocking assassination on February 4th, 2021, Rasha Slim, Lokman’s sister, described the activist as “oppressed, loving, and humble.”
She added: “People loved him, and his opponents lost a noble opponent who used to live among them and engage with them intelligently, logically, calmly, and lovingly.”
Hours after his assassination, Lebanese-French journalist Mona Alami of Al-Arabiya English revealed that Lokman Slim was working on facilitating the defection of a Hezbollah associate in money laundering.