Industry bodies have reacted with anger and sadness at the murder of the Lebanese publisher, writer and activist Lokman Slim who was found dead inside his car on 4 February in southern Lebanon. He had been shot several times. No group has yet claimed responsibility but Hezbollah is widely suspected; Lokman has long been a prominent critic of the Islamist body.
In Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Bodour al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association, said: “We were saddened to learn of the loss of Lokman Slim, a valued member of the international publishing community. His murder, apparently for exercising his right to freedom of speech, calls for an international investigation into his death. We must ensure that others are not scared into silence.”
The IPA said it supported statements from industry bodies in Germany condemning the killing. In a joint statement, the Börsenverein (the German Booksellers and Publishers Association), the Frankfurt Book Fair and the freedom of expression body IG Meinungsfreiheit, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the murder of filmmaker and publisher Lokman Slim and we call for an international investigation into this callous murder. The international publishing community mourns a fearless, outspoken, and committed fighter for the right to freedom of expression.
“In 2004, Lokman Slim and his publishing house Dar Al Jadeed participated in the Frankfurter Buchmesses invitation programme, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office. As a co-founder of the Documentation and Research Center UMAM Lokman Slim was committed to analysis and debate regarding the recent history of Lebanon, and Syria. Together with his German partner Monika Borgmann, he made the award-winning documentaries Massacre (2004), on the perpetrators of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and Tadmor (2016), about a torture prison run by the Assad regime.
We offer our sincere condolences to Monika Borgmann and Lokman Slim’s sister and co-founder of Dar Al Jadeed publishing house, Rasha al-Amir, as well as the entire family.”
Dar Al Jadeed was founded in 1990 in Haret Hreik, a village near Beirut where Slim was born in 1962. Slim also co-founded Umam Documentation and Research centre in 2004 through which he dedicated a large portion of resources to recording, compiling, preserving, and promoting Lebanese history. He published several historical documents and works for art.
Before this he spent six years in France, studying for a philosophy degree at the Sorbonne. Over the years some books from his publishing house were censored and banned by the Lebanese General Security.
In a country still reeling from last year’s explosion in Beirut port this latest tragedy only adds to a feeling of unrest, uncertainty, fear and anger.