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PoliticsMiddle East

Hezbollah critic found dead in his car

February 4, 2021

Lokman Slim was an outspoken critic of Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group. His murder follows years of targeted harassment by the group's supporters.

A protester holds up a picture of Lokman Slim after he was found dead in his car
Hezbollah supporters had previously made threats against the activist, pictured in the poster aboveImage: Bilal Hussein/AP Photo/picture alliance

Lokman Slim, a prominent Lebanese intellectual and vocal critic of the militant Hezbollah group, was found dead in his car on Thursday morning. He was shot several times at close range, a security official reported.

The 58-year-old, long threatened for his anti-Hezbollah stance, had been a leading secular voice in Lebanon's Shiite community.

"He was found dead in his car, killed by a bullet to the head," a senior security official told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency on condition of anonymity.

A forensic coroner confirmed that Slim had been shot in the chest, head and neck. The security official also said Slim's ID, phone and gun had been taken.

Security forces inspect the scene where Lokman Slim was found shot dead
Security forces descended on the scene where Slim was found shot dead early ThursdayImage: Mohammed Zaatari/AP Photo/picture alliance

Slim's family had posted on social media that they had not heard from him since Wednesday evening. He was found near the village of Addoussieh, in southern Lebanon, apparently on a return trip to Beirut.

A 'horrific crime'

Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi called the murder a "horrific crime," according to local media.

Slim's sister, Rasha al-Ameer, told AFP that he had been targeted because "he had a political stance."

"It is a big tragedy,'' said Makram Rabah, a close friend and history lecturer. "Anyone who knows Lokman they know who his enemies are.''

Lokman was the founder of the Umam Documentation and Research organization, which aims to archive Lebanon's violent past in an attempt to raise awareness and prevent further violence.

Slim lived with his wife in the southern suburbs of Beirut where he also ran a film production house and held regular debates, political forums and art shows.

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Years of threats

Hezbollah supporters often criticized Slim, calling him a US puppet. Following pro-democracy protests in 2019, some also plastered messages over his Beirut home labeling him a traitor and saying his "time will come."

Slim had been a strong opponent of Hezbollah's grip on power and had called for sovereignty and diversity in Lebanon. He is one of the most prominent intellectuals to be killed in the country since the assassination of historian Samir Kassir in 2005.

His murder came six months after the devastating explosion at Beirut's port which rocked the already precarious Mediterranean nation.

Critics have blamed the explosion on Hezbollah and its influence over customs and port security.

ab/nm (AFP, AP)