Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another assassination attempt

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

“April”, TS Eliot once wrote, “is the cruelest month”. So it would seem in Lebanon, where just a day after the 37th anniversary of the Ain el-Rammaneh massacre that sparked the civil war, the journalist Mustafa Jeha was fired on by would-be assassins on the Damour-Jiyye highway in what was the month’s second attempt on a public figure’s life, as well as its second deliberate targeting of a journalist.

Mustafa is perhaps best known as the son of his eponymous father, also a writer, who fell victim to a successful assassination attempt in 1992. The motive of the killing remains unclear. On the one hand, Jeha père was an affiliate of the Guardians of the Cedars, the party-cum-militia whose highly controversial ideology earned it no shortage of enemies. On the other, he also wrote a number of books critical of Islamic doctrine, such as ‘Khomeini Assassinates Zoroaster’.

According to a statement released yesterday by the Beirut-based Samir Kassir eyes [SKeyes] Center, which monitors free speech violations in the Middle East, Jeha fils announced in January of this year that he was “re-opening the judicial case of his father’s assassination”, suggesting that Saturday’s attempt on his life demonstrated “the killers’ readiness to do all they can to prevent progress” in this regard. How singularly despicable that someone should be killed for wanting to know why his own father died. The SKeyes statement is well worth reading in its entirety, and - whatever one’s opinion of Jeha’s political and/or religious beliefs - one cannot but echo their unconditional condemnation of this anachronistic savagery. As George Orwell so imperishably put it: “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

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